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The OCD Workbook: Your Guide to Breaking Free from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

by Bruce M. Hyman, Ph.D., and Cherry Pedrick, R.N.

New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 1999. 198 pages. Paperback: $18.95
Review by Dick Rowson, Bert Growald, and Sondra B. Kaska, NAMI Literature Committee

Those unfamiliar with obsessive-compulsive disorder will find The OCD Workbook a perceptive introduction to the illness. People with OCD and their families can learn about a very useful program of cognitive-behavior therapy capable of significantly enhancing their ability to cope with the disorder.

Hyman is a psychologist in private practice and director of the OCD Resources Center of South Florida. In both roles, he specializes in the treatment of adults and children with OCD. Cherry Pedrick is a registered nurse who, herself, has OCD, and she is a freelance writer living in Las Vegas.

Although this workbook spells out a self-directed program for someone with OCD, it states at the outset the need to work with a therapist skilled in the treatment of this illness and discusses the value of medication and family involvement for successful treatment. One of the reviewers with long, personal experience with mental illness cautions that Hyman does not place enough emphasis on the important role of the therapist. The self-directed treatment plan Hyman and Pedrick present should not be viewed as a do-it-yourself manual, and it should not be implemented without professional guidance.

However, the authors' cognitive-behavior plan is clear and well organized. It is also well illustrated with concrete case studies that should help ill people and family members to recognize OCD symptoms and the need to deal with them and to understand and accept treatment. The treatment plan includes help with self-assessing OCD symptoms, a "road map" or anxiety list that ranks fear-producing simulations, and a plan for addressing them. There are worksheets for personal use and illustrated guides for completing them. One reviewer questioned the number of forms and the need to complete them, but another applauded the encouragement and technical assistance they offered consumers with OCD.

The OCD Workbook book also has brief but useful chapters about OCD in children, psychiatric disorders that resemble OCD or co-exist with OCD, and coping suggestions for family members.