Cover Image: The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD

The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD

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Member Reviews

Most practical OCD workbook I have ever read. The inclusion of case studies as a mean to help readers understand the content and exercise clearly is a great thing about this book. Without slapping so many facts, data, and research excerpts on readers' face, like most of the other books do, this book really works readers down the road with compassion.
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The Self-Compassion Workbook for OCD by Kimberley Quinlan looks at how to use self-compassion in conjunction with exposure and response prevention (ERP) to manage OCD. The foreword is written by Jon Hershfield, co-author of The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD, which I’ve previously reviewed. Like that book’s use of mindfulness, this book uses self-compassion as a way to augment ERP, which is the gold standard for OCD, rather than replace it; the author refers to this as self-compassionate ERP (SC-ERP). This isn’t a book that tells you to just be nicer to yourself and your OCD will go away.

The author is very realistic in her approach to self-compassion. At the beginning of the book, she explains that it’s not “flowers and unicorns,” nor is it about giving yourself compliments while you run away from your fears. It’s about being kind to yourself as you make space for discomfort; it’s “warm, yet fierce.” The author also addresses roadblocks to self-compassion that people with OCD commonly experience, as well as how to handle them.

Case studies are presented early on and then used throughout the book to illustrate different concepts and exercises. I thought these were really well constructed; they were realistic, and I think they’re likely to help the book to feel more personally relevant for readers.

The background info presented about OCD included a longer list of OCD subtypes than the lists I’ve come across before, with examples like postpartum, emotional contamination, sensorimotor, hyper-responsibility, and obsessing about obsessing. The book also outlines compulsions that are often associated with each obsession type. There's also an explanation of how the brain works in relation to OCD symptoms, which I think is always useful information to include.

The author writes that clients always want to know how to stop the obsessions from happening, and she explains why it doesn’t work that way. Trying to suppress thoughts only makes them dance around in your head even more. You may have heard me mention the “don’t think about a white bear” exercise that gets those bears doing the lambada in your head; her equivalent example is don’t think about a green apple.

In general, the book includes a lot of very reasonable explanations for what the author is saying, plus plenty of reinforcement that self-compassion isn’t about weakness. For example, when going through the steps of the OCD cycle, obsessions -> anxiety -> compulsions -> temporary relief, she explains how self-criticism feeds into the entire cycle, and self-compassion can change that. Her approach to breaking the OCD cycle involves “fierce self-compassion and badassery.”

I liked the suggestion that instead of always aiming for an A+, life gets better when you drop your expectations down to a B-. It’s not about aiming for mediocrity, but rather dropping the expectations that fuel self-criticism.

Mindfulness is incorporated as a way of acknowledging that you’re in pain but not judging it or coming up with stories about it. Another important concept is compassionate responsibility, which involves putting yourself first and being unconditionally there for yourself. There are also a variety of foundational self-compassion exercises offered that you can use as you begin to work on ERP.

Part two of the book gets into ERP, emphasizing the importance of accepting uncertainty and feeling uncomfortable. This section begins with a chapter on identifying obsessions and compulsions and then creating an ERP Challenge List to work on. There are several chapters devoted to working on exposures, including flooding, imaginal exposures, interoceptive exposure (i.e. exposure to bodily sensations) and creative ways of getting creative and playful with exposures.

Part three of the book is on recovery and beyond, and addresses issues like continuing ERP through recovery, acknowledging the trauma that OCD can inflict, and facing grief over what’s lost to OCD.

I thought this book was great. I’m not a flowers and unicorns kind of person, and this is not a flowers and unicorns kind of book. You don’t have to be into meditation or affirmations or things like that that you might associate with self-compassion. I think this would be a great choice for anyone dealing with OCD.

I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.
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good resource to refer to and add to list of anxiety management tools. Clearly presented and organized.
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I am finding this book straightforward, practical, and easy to implement. I recently was diagnosed with OCD and am working on coping skills and navigating my tendencies. I love things like this that tell me exactly what to do and help me understand why I am the way I am. If you are recently diagnosed, have symptoms you want to manage, or want to improve your self-compassion, this book is great for you!
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I'm a clinician so reading from the perspective of something that can be helpful for clients. This was an amazing workbook. I get very frustrated with OCD self help books just expecting people to expose themselves to their worst fears but this one is not like that. It brilliantly integrates self compassion into OCD treatment in a step by step way. I feel like this is what my interventions have been missing and am definitely going to recommend to clients and colleagues working with OCD
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This workbook is labeled as a Self-Compassion workbook for those with OCD and is filled with activities, explanations, and anecdotes to be utilized in getting a grasp on and eventually healing from and overcoming OCD behaviors.
I found this workbook very helpful in some areas such as learning what my OCD behaviors are, what triggers them, and how I feel in various moments. I also appreciated connecting with what the author calls my "compassionate self" and changing the way I view myself in light of my OCD behaviors. Many of the compassion techniques I have now incorporated into my life and I am extremely thankful and hopeful after completing this workbook.
One aspect of the workbook that was not ideal was that much of it was geared towards intrusive thoughts which doesn't much apply to me. All of the example patients dealt with some kind of intrusive thought that upended their lives which is very different from the way I experience OCD. I wish there had been sections that outlined which OCD behaviors were applicable so that I was not confused or wasting my time. I would love to see a follow-up book that focuses more on urges and physical compulsions and not so much on thoughts.
Overall, I enjoyed this process and I am thankful for the insights from the author and the time she spent in creating a resource for people like me to overcome their OCD through self-compassion.
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The ERP exercises in this book are standard for OCD treatment (which is good because they are standard for a reason.) What makes this book stand out is the emphasis on self-compassion throughout OCD treatment and recovery. I also really appreciated the last chapter which went into the realities of "recovery" for OCD as well as the grief and the trauma that can go along with it. The reflection and practice sections are wonderful, especially with the inclusion of examples from case studies.
The one issue I had with the book is that it doesn't explicitly say that readers should be using this book with the guidance of a therapist. In fact, the introduction gives the impression that the reader is meant to use the workbook without any outside guidance. This is an issue because there are several ERP practices in the book that can cause certain obsessions or compulsions to get worse if done before the OCD patient is ready or if done improperly. To its credit, the book does note this.
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A really great reference book and guide for those who suffer with some form of OCD. 
I will definitely return to this book again when needed.
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Great explanations and easy workbook to aid client's with OCD disorders in addition to receiving therapy from a trained clinician
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I will be consulting this book as a reference for some time. Useful information to help people to manage OCD. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for giving me an advance copy of this book,
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