5 Must-Read Books for People Struggling with OCD

5 min read
Stephen Smith
By Stephen Smith

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.

Here are the top five books that I recommend if you’re looking to conquer 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.

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.

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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 – not replacements – to treatment. 

The key to effectively managing OCD long-term is to see a licensed therapist who has specialty training in OCD and ERP. At NOCD, we have licensed, ERP-trained OCD specialists, many of whom accept insurance and have availability to see you within 7 days on average. You can view our therapist directory to find the right provider for you, or book a free 15-minute call with our team to get matched with one and get started with OCD treatment now. 

If working with a NOCD therapist isn’t the right fit for you right now, there are other reputable sources where you may be able to connect to a provider with specialty training in ERP. You can check out the IOCDF directory or search for OCD specialists in Psychology Today

No matter which direction you take, it’s critical to make sure that the therapist you choose to work with is specialty-trained and practices ERP. If you find a therapist that teaches you disciplines to manage OCD that are significantly different from these OCD treatment books or from what you’ve learned to be the standard, don’t hesitate to ask them questions about their training (in fact, I recommend you ask them to any prospective OCD specialist before you start treatment, even those at NOCD). There are therapists who claim false expertise and market therapy to people with OCD that’s not only ineffective, but actually harmful

You deserve nothing but the best. If there’s anything the NOCD team can do to help you, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Stephen Smith

Stephen founded NOCD after feeling frustrated with a lack of treatment resources and support during his own OCD recovery. He enjoys running hill sprints, listening to audiobooks, and eating breakfast no matter the time of day.

NOCD Therapists specialize in treating OCD

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Taylor Newendorp

Taylor Newendorp

Licensed Therapist, MA

I started as a therapist over 14 years ago, working in different mental health environments. Many people with OCD that weren't being treated for it crossed my path and weren't getting better. I decided that I wanted to help people with OCD, so I became an OCD therapist, and eventually, a clinical supervisor. I treated people using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and saw people get better day in and day out. I continue to use ERP because nothing is more effective in treating OCD.

Madina Alam

Madina Alam

Licensed Therapist, LCMHC

When I started treating OCD, I quickly realized how much this type of work means to me because I had to learn how to be okay with discomfort and uncertainty myself. I’ve been practicing as a licensed therapist since 2016. My graduate work is in mental health counseling, and I use Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy because it’s the gold standard of OCD treatment.

Tamara Harrison

Tamara Harrison

Licensed Therapist, MA

I have personally struggled with OCD and know what it's like to feel controlled by intrusive thoughts and compulsions, and to also overcome it using the proper therapy. I’ve been a licensed therapist since 2017. I have an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and practice Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy. I know by experience how effective ERP is in treating OCD symptoms.

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