Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

5 Must-Read Books for People Struggling with OCD

By Stephen Smith

Nov 07, 20234 minute read

Reviewed byPatrick McGrath, PhD

Person reading a book on a couch

Living with untreated OCD can be brutal. You wake up in the morning, begin obsessing immediately, and then go to sleep twelve hours later hoping your next day isn’t as difficult. I can relate, because I’ve been there. 

The good news is that many people with OCD effectively manage their condition every day, given how treatable it is. The gold-standard treatment for OCD is exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy provided by a licensed therapist who is specialty-trained in it. Sometimes, ERP can also be combined with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medications, mindfulness techniques, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). 

Given the availability of clinically proven treatment combined with other useful approaches to manage OCD, it’s hard to believe that OCD was once thought to be untreatable. One of the reasons OCD is so manageable today is that there have been many brilliant clinicians who dedicated their careers to researching the condition, devised life-changing clinical interventions for it, and have treated people for decades. Many of these same experts and researchers have written books that continue to help people with OCD as they are on their treatment and recovery journeys.

The top five books that I recommend if you’re looking to conquer OCD

The OCD Answer Book: Professional Answers To More Than 250 Top Questions About Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder by Patrick McGrath, PhD

Dr. Patrick McGrath is a world-renowned OCD expert and NOCD’s Chief Clinical Officer. Drawing on decades of experience treating OCD, Dr. McGrath has compiled and answered hundreds of the most common questions people ask about OCD, whether they have the condition themselves, think they may have it, or have a loved one who suffers from it.

Learn what Dr. McGrath uses to help people overcome OCD

No matter how long you’ve struggled with OCD, no matter what treatment options you may have tried, make no mistake: you can conquer OCD. With specialized treatment that was designed specifically for OCD, you can regain your life.

Learn how you can beat OCD

Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions by Edna B. Foa, PhD and Reid Wilson, PhD

This is the book that I read when going through my own treatment. It completely transformed my understanding of OCD, and ultimately led me to recognize how to effectively respond to my OCD fears in the moment of an episode. Dr. Foa and Dr. Wilson are internationally renowned authorities on the treatment of anxiety disorders and share their scientifically based and clinically proven self-help program for people with OCD. 

Freedom from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery Program for Living with Uncertainty by Jonathan Grayson, PhD

There are few people who understand OCD and how it’s treated as well as Dr. Grayson, a nationally recognized expert who has worked with people struggling with OCD for more than four decades. His is a must-read book if either you or a loved one has OCD. It contains everything from Dr. Grayson’s own research into OCD themes to assessments and tools for you and a specialty-trained therapist to use during treatment.

The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD: A Guide to Overcoming Obsessions and Compulsions Using Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Jon Hershfield, MFT and Tom Corboy, MFT

This book does a fantastic job of helping people with OCD understand how they’re supposed to respond to their OCD fears without doing compulsive actions. Along with treatment from an ERP specialist, this book can guide you in mindfulness and meditation techniques for managing OCD, as well as provide you with more information about various OCD themes. Jon Hershfield and Tom Corboy are two well-known therapists specializing in the treatment of OCD and related conditions, and they are considered authorities on applying mindfulness and meditation strategies to managing OCD.

The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD: Lean Into Your Fear, Manage Difficult Emotions, and Focus on Recovery by Kimberley Quinlan, LMFT 

Kimberly Quinlan, LMFT, is an OCD specialist and an expert in mindfulness. In her workbook, she outlines a step-by-step program that highlights how to use mindfulness tactics to manage thoughts throughout the day to develop self-compassion and combat the shame and stigma often associated with OCD. Her guide teaches readers how to balance intense emotions, lean into their fear, and focus on recovery.

Learning about OCD can put you on the path to recovery

From my personal experience, I believe these books are all helpful resources and can serve as an entryway into better understanding OCD, no matter where you are on your journey. It’s also important to note that these recommended books are best used as adjuncts to treatment—not replacements for it. 

The key to effectively managing OCD long-term is to see a licensed therapist who has specialty training in OCD and ERP therapy. Sometimes people believe that if they’ve worked with a therapist in the past, and it didn’t help their OCD, all hope is lost. That’s a mistake, because ERP therapy is unique. Other forms of therapy like talk therapy or psychoanalysis cannot serve as a substitute for ERP.

At NOCD, we have licensed, ERP-trained OCD specialists. We also accept insurance and see patients quickly. I encourage you to learn more about NOCD’s evidence-base approach to treatment, or you can view our therapist directory to find the right provider for you.

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