I can understand much of your frustration in finding information on
the web that will help you receive some of the benefits of
cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on your own. Although I haven't
had to deal with OCD myself, I certainly have had my share of anxiety
and depression issues, and I can testify based on experience that CBT
really can work. And the good news is that, yes, it is possible to
learn and use some CBT techniques on your own.
First of all, a disclaimer: I'm not a mental-health professional. My
answer to you is based on research, considerable personal experience
and the experience of a close friend who had a disorder very similar
to OCD (a type of hypochondriasis). I believe you will find this
information helpful, but if problems persist, and especially if they
should interfere with your life, I would certainly recommend
In any case, I can't suggest any web sites that say much about
self-implementation of CBT techniques. I have looked for my own
personal research, and I looked again in answering this question. The
best I could find was some self-help bulletin boards, which I list
below. However, I can suggest some excellent books on the subject.
Some of these I have read, while others have been recommended to me.
I am providing you with the links to their pages at Amazon.com,
although of course you can buy the books at other places:
A Guide to Rational Living
This is the classic by Albert Ellis, who developed Rational Emotive
Therapy. The basic premise is that you feel what you think, so if you
want to feel better you should change your thinking. The concept is
basically the same as CBT, and many CBT technique are derived from
RET. It's an excellent book even if Ellis at times overstates his case
and ignores many of the spiritual aspects of life.
Overcoming Destructive Beliefs, Feelings, and Behaviors
This is another book by Ellis and one of his best-selling. I have
found that many of his books are a lot alike and discuss the same
concepts, but this one seems to be one of his most popular.
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
This book primarily discusses CBT-like techniques for fighting
depression. But it is still one of the best books available for
laypersons on the subject of CBT, and it does discuss anxiety issues
as well. I have read this book and would certainly recommend it.
The Feeling Good Handbook
A workbook based on the above book.
The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook
This book comes highly recommended.
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
I haven't read this book. But I have seen it mentioned numerous times
in online forums relating to anxiety issues, and many people seem to
find it useful.
Freedom From Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Personalized Recovery
Program For Living With Uncertainty
I don't know more about this book than what's on Amazon, but it looks
interesting and emphasizes nonpharmaceutical approaches.
Brain Lock : Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior
Ditto the Above
Anxiety Disorders and Phobias: A Cognitive Perspective
This book is aimed mainly at professionals but has lot of useful
information on CBT.
I hope that one of more of these books will help. Like we've both
observed, there isn't much on the Web that explains these techniques.
But there is some information on you can find on the Web about
thought-stopping techniques. They really do work! They're not a
panacea, but they have worked for me in dealing with certain issues
(like irrationally thinking I have left the stove on and that sort of
One classic thought-stopping technique is to put a rubber band around
your wrist and snap it whenever unwanted thoughts come into your head.
It sounds crazy and silly, but it does work. I did it for a short
while (only a day or two), and now when I have some obsessional
thinking (although not nearly as bad as yours) I can stop it just by
visualizing the rubber band snapping.
Here are some pages that discuss thought-stopping techniques:
Farm Stress Management Workshop
Thought-Stopping and Thought-Switching
I was unable to find any realiable-looking nutrition information
dealing specifically with OCD, but there is information about diet and
anxiety. The basic message is to avoid stimulants such as caffeine,
avoid excessive sugar intake, and generally have a balanced diet with
sufficient vitamins and minerals. Here are some sites that may be
Social Anxiety Disorder Treatment
Anxiety and Affective Disorders
You also may be able to find some help in interacting with people who
face problems similar to yours. Here are some online forums that deal
with OCD issues:
Scroll down the left side of the page and open the folder on OCD.
From the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation
OCD Bulletin Board
While looking through these forums, I found that what much of the
people are talking about is CBT techniques, even if they aren't called
Finally, although it sounds like you have seen these before, here are
some sites or pages that provide background on OCD or CBT:
National Institute of Mental Health
OCD and Tic Disorders
When Seeing Is Not Believing
I hope you find this information useful and are able to conquer or
diminish your problem.
Successful Google searches:
"obsessive compulsive disorder"
OCD "bulletin board"
Request for Answer Clarification by
22 Oct 2003 15:56 PDT
Thanks, this is all fantastic.
I just have one question about the books (since I can check the web
sites out for free, I'll check them myself): It seems like a lot of
them are about reducing anxious/stressful etc. responses. I want to be
clear that the narrating thought process really doesn't cause me any
stress. From what I've read about "spikes", this is not a response to
anything resembling a spike. In fact, it really is more of a thought
than a feeling. (Though the purpose of the narration is essentially to
seek approval or admiration or the like).
Would these books still be useful given that this is not an anxious
behavior? Or, which of these books would be most useful for that?
Thank you again, I'll rate you 5 stars after the clarification, since
you won't be able to clarify after I've rated.
Clarification of Answer by
22 Oct 2003 19:49 PDT
Yes, I believe the books will still be useful. Of course, there are
different types of anxiety, and they aren't all types that we would
necessarily equate with stress. But the recurring thoughts you're
having, and OCD itself, are considered a type of anxiety.
Also, what these books are really about (at least the ones I've read
all or part of) are retraining thoughts; misplaced thoughts can result
in all sorts of disorders and states that are less severe and might be
considered challenges rather than disorders. In fact, Ellis claims
that Rational Emotive Therapy can be used for just about any
emotion-related condition, not just anxiety and depression but also
things such as OCD, anger problems, frustration, low frustration
tolerance, and on and on.
As far as the rubber band, no, I didn't experience bruising. But if
that's a concern, you can use a different method. Several of the sites
I mentioned suggested visualizing a stop sign. The key is to do
something that shifts your focus in a way that helps you stop thinking
repetitive thoughts. The intent isn't to cause pain.
If you peruse some of those bulletin boards, you'll run across other
methods that have worked for other people.
I hope this helps, and I wish you the best.