I recently finished reading the book “The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD” by Jon Hershfield, MFT and Tom Corboy, MFT and I have to say I was quite impressed and have already started using many of their ideas with my current OCD clients (as well as clients with other kinds of anxiety disorders besides OCD!). Both authors clearly have a wealth of experience working with OCD and share a number of useful ideas, tips, and techniques in their book. Essentially, mindfulness is moment to moment nonjudgmental awareness of what is happening in your mind. When you start paying attention to what your mind is actually doing, it is really quite surprising how little of the time we really are present. So often we get lost in our thoughts, react to them without thinking, and get caught up in our thought streams which can take us into some very dark and scary places which are very far from the present moment. And this entire process takes place without us being aware that it is happening – we may not be aware that we have a choice to not pay attention to our thoughts and see then for what they are as just “thoughts” and simply not respond. As one develops the ability to be more mindful it is possible to notice these things happening and the very noticing then gives us the possibility of making a different choice. If, after touching a doorknob, I suddenly feel the urge to rush to the bathroom and wash the germs off my hands, I can mindfully be aware that I’m having thoughts about my hands being contaminated but also since I am now more aware I can make a choice to either do what I’ve always done, rush to wash my hands, or I can make a choice in the moment to stay with the discomfort and see what happens. Mindfulness allows me to be aware of the “automatic pilot” and to disengage from what may have become long-standing habits of responding to discomfort by seeking immediate relief.The authors also certainly incorporate more traditional Cognitive Behavioral Treatment approaches such as Exposure and Response Prevention and cognitive restructuring, but they add to our clinical repertoire these new techniques derived from mindfulness which I think only serve to enhance the effectiveness of these more traditional approaches.
The book begins with several chapters on mindfulness, followed by a very useful chapter entitled “Acceptance, Assessment, Action”, then there are nine chapters on applying their particular techniques to specific kinds of OCD, and finally a few chapters at the end on maintaining your progress and preventing relapse. I highly recommend this book to anybody who is suffering from any form of OCD, and, in fact, anyone suffering from other types of anxiety as well as I believe the mindfulness skills will be useful no matter what kind of anxiety someone is suffering from.