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Book Review: Talking Back to OCD

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Book Review: Talking Back to OCD
Cover image courtesy of The Guilford Press

The Bottom Line

By John S. March, MD, with Christine M. Benton; 276 pages. Subtitle: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say "No Way" -- and Parents Say "Way to Go"

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder fools kids into thinking it's a fearsome monster, but this enthusiastic self-help book recommends giving that monster a funny name and talking trash about him. With a detailed program of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, author March gives children and families tools to recognize obsessions and compulsions as "mental hiccups" that can be stopped with a little courage and creativity.

About the Guide Rating

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  • Detailed description of how to do the program with your child
  • Includes charts and other ideas for helping kids visualize the work to be done
  • Offers an alternative to medication for many young OCD sufferers
  • Gives family a role in helping kids fight back
  • Includes resources for finding a therapist if necessary


  • You may want to skip the early descriptive chapters and get right to the steps
  • Children with multiple special needs may have problems with the program
  • Parents have the hard job of letting the child be in charge, but still being supportive
  • If your child fails, the OCD may come back stronger than ever


  • Part I: A New Look at OCD for Parents (and Kids)
    Chapter 1: What Is OCD?
    Chapter 2: What Does OCD Look Like?
  • Chapter 3: What Causes OCD?
    Chapter 4: How Is OCD Treated?
    Part II: Eight Steps for Getting Rid of Obsessions and Compulsions
  • Chapter 5:
    Step 1: What Kind of Treatment Is This, Anyway?
    Step 1: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 6:
    Step 2: Talking Back to OCD
    Step 2: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 7:
    Step 3: Making a Map
    Step 3: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 8:
    Step 4: Finishing My Toolkit
    Step 4: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 9:
    Step 5: Beginning to Resist
    Step 5: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 10:
    Step 6: I'm in Charge Now
    Step 6: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 11:
    Step 7: Eliminating OCD Everywhere
    Step 7: Instructions for Parents
  • Chapter 12:
    Step 8: Keeping OCD Away for Good
    Step 8: Instructions for Parents

Guide Review - Book Review: Talking Back to OCD

The obsessions and compulsions of OCD can be a burden for everyone in the household, not only the child afflicted but the parents and siblings who have to tiptoe around the strange behaviors. Once parents realize that a child's actions are symptoms of an illness and not signs of misbehavior, they may bend over backwards to accommodate -- washing glasses, condoning collections, leaving extra time for counting or touching.

In Talking Back to OCD, child psychiatrist John S. March suggests stopping all that aiding and abetting, and treating OCD not as a common burden but a common enemy. Identify it as something outside the child, to be taunted rather than feared. Find the areas it cannot defend, and gain more and more territory for healthy thinking.

That sounds easier said than done, but the book goes into fairly exhaustive detail about its eight-step Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program to kick OCD's butt. Each step includes a section for kids to read (or have read to them), and a section to help parents provide appropriate support. The hardest advice for parents may be to let your child be in charge at all times, deciding where and when to fight and becoming empowered in the process.

The program includes lots of charts and lists and journaling ideas, which may be helpful for some kids and overwhelming for others, as well as lots of quotes from youngsters who have used the program successfully, which are bound to be encouraging. The author is optimistic about the possibility of families running the program without the assistance of therapists or drugs, but offers advice on when each may need to be called in.

Talking Back to OCD reminded me strongly of The Anxiety Cure for Kids, a book that was hugely helpful for my daughter. It certainly seems like it would be worth a try for families under OCD's thumb.

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