My whole soul rebels against structured things, always. I think I spent the first two months “forgetting” to do various cognitive behavioural therapy homework assignments. The week she finally said, “just write anything,” I suddenly became compliant, but last week she strode in and said, “before anything else, I need to give you homework!” I bleated, “but I do homework every week!” “Structured homework,” quoth she, in ominous tones – and my heart sank.
She sketched out a table with the following headers:
Date and situation.
Emotion and intensity out of 100.
Automatic thoughts and images. Rate how much you believe that thought out of 100.
Rational response. Rate how much you believe in this response out of 100.
How much do you believe in the original thought out of 100?
Further action. Do you need to take some further action in light of the rational response?
Surely she has more tricks up her sleeve on this one beyond focusing on the rational response? Because I’ve spent a lot of my life acknowledging that shitloads of my responses to things are totally out of whack, and in many cases I ignore my irrational shit and, ‘feel the fear, do it anyway’. The rest of the time, my chickenshit ass is hiding under the duvet, thank you very much. (If I told her the aforementioned, she’d probably say, “cognitive distortion: mind reading”.
The thought haunts me throughout, that she’s going to tell me it’s all wrong. I’ll have filled it out wrong, my thinking will be wrong. Rational mind says, “don’t be daft; even if it’s not filled in right, she’ll just help you in that nice, helpful-hamster therapist way”. So it’s just me telling me that I’m wrong, as usual. I’m ‘catastrophizing’, to use the jargon (it’s like gymming and gifting, you can verb any noun you want these days).
Like the intellectually agile and therapised (see?) lab rat that I am, I’ve even interrogated myself about why I’m so resistant to it all in the first place. I suspect the answer is that it threatens my status quo, the web of coping mechanisms I learned during a decade or so of abuse and the generally dysfunctional life thereafter. Conventional wisdom will say that’s great, because undoing those threads will allow better structures (eek, that scary word) to be put in place.
I don’t actually have a smartassed response to that one. I’m just scared. If that web goes, I don’t see a trainee psychiatrist being able to put me back together in however many sessions we have left. Okay wait, she’s got an experienced supervisor and I’ve got my usual psychiatrist too.
I’ll run it by her and let you know what she says.