When New Harbinger Publications asked if I would consider reviewing Michael Tompkins book, OCD: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, I was heartened to know that there was a new book on this topic. The introduction is by Jeff Bell, who wrote an insightful memoir about OCD called Rewind, Replay Repeat, which I took to be a good sign.
The book fits nicely in the hand, and adds to the approachability for those who have just found out they have OCD. Actually, Tompkins starts with describing the process of getting a diagnosis, and I'm glad he addressed the difficulty of finding mental health professionals who are actually familiar with the many forms OCD can take. I would argue that the comprehensive diagnostic process described in this book really only happens with therapists who are specialists in OCD, or who have trained in Exposure Therapy, and have treated a lot of people with OCD. The therapist who diagnosed me basically said, yes, it sounds like you have OCD.
Tompkins does an overview of Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy(ERP), Cognitive Therapy, and medication as well as other treatments, as well as what questions to ask a potential therapist, and how to get the most out of sessions.
I particularly liked the chapter on developing a "Recovery Attitude" including accepting such things as uncertainty, imperfect outcomes, imperfect knowledge, learning to approach discomfort in order to get through to the other side, turning away from debate with your OCD, seeking support, not reassurance, and practicing everyday. As someone who has struggled with perfectionistic OCD, I constantly battled with the fear that I wasn't doing my treatment perfectly or that I didn't have perfect knowledge of my OCD. Tompkins points out that "good enough" treatment is indeed "good enough," and OCD is demanding perfection that doesn't exist.
The book closes with information about unhealthy coping, school and work issues, a list of treatment centers, and recommended reading. It's difficult to fit everything into an introductory book, an at times I wanted more detail, or found too much squeezed into a section, but overall this book would be an excellent addition to a public library's mental health collection, as well as college libraries and hospital consumer health libraries.
Michael Tompkins, PhD, is a licensed psychologist at the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy.