This session occurred on Thursday, September 27, 2012. I was looking forward to this session in particular because of the stress I had been feeling over my medication and side effects. I kept thinking of my therapist and all I wanted to do was go to session and update him on what was happening to me. Even though I had told my best friend and the psychologist, I didn’t feel enough comfort or validation in my feelings and fear. I felt if I talked about these feelings/fears to my therapist I would feel better. I suppose I did feel some sort of comfort in this past session, but I left feeling a little disappointed.
I began session by updating my therapist on the meeting with the psychologist, my side-effects, and the stress/fear I was feeling. We didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about these things that I can remember. I don’t really remember how my therapist reacted to all of it. I think he did validate my feelings by stating how this added stress must be a lot for me, or something. Again, I don’t remember what he said to me but I do recall feeling a little disappointed since I had looked forward to expressing this information to him.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Observer-self / Judgmental-self
My therapist was telling me about cognitive behavioral therapy (which was somewhat familiar due to my minor in psychology/sociology). I might end up butchering this summary of what he said though because 1) I don’t really remember it all and 2) I didn’t really quite understand it all. So here it goes… There are two parts to your mind/self. The first is the observer-self, which can just sort of look back and separate itself from your thoughts. My therapist related the observer-self to people watching. Say you are sitting in a café, watching a couple argue. You can observe and assess how true each side of the argument may be. The same thing can happen within your own brain. While having all these chaotic thoughts, the observer-self can step back and assess these arguments. The development of the observer-self has been used to help people with depression and anxiety. It isn’t about changing your thoughts, but more just acknowledging their existence as thoughts, how true you deem them to be, and what evidence you have to base that conviction on. Apparently just by doing utilizing the observer-self, people have felt better about themselves. As for the judgmental-self, I am a bit more confused. I didn’t really understand the difference between the judgmental-self and the observer-self. I think the judgmental-self is what one utilizes to assess themselves. For example, “I am not pretty” or “I am not capable of ________”. How true are these thoughts? Does your view of yourself and your capabilities hinder you in anyway? I used the example of how I wanted to call out of my volunteer position that night because I didn’t feel like I would be good at what they had asked of me. This negative judgment of myself was more than just a thought, it was hindering me from doing something. There was MUCH more about this, but I really just don’t remember what else he told me.
Verbal expression vs. Emotional expression
This discussion was particularly interesting though frustrating for both my therapist and myself. He was trying to explain to me how there is a difference between feeling emotion and stating what emotion you feel. For example, I can say I’m frustrated, but where do I feel that in my body? Apparently I don’t have a good grasp on emotions because I cannot pinpoint any sort of emotion within my body and I often cannot describe emotion. My therapist mentioned how I felt anger towards the psychologist. I reminded him how ‘anger’ was not the correct term, as I do not ever feel ‘anger’. He reminded me that while maybe I do not notice that I feel this emotion, as a human being I must be capable of it. I cannot think of one time in my life when I felt the emotion of ‘anger’ but according to him, I just never knew what it was. I am so ‘mute’ to emotion that I cannot recognize feelings. I may say things like, “I feel frustrated” or “I am happy” but those are empty words for me. I can verbalize my thoughts on things, but I do not have any grasp on the emotion behind these words.
What will it take to make me feel happy?
My therapist asked me this question and I hadn’t the slightest clue how to answer it because I really just don’t know. I answered something like, “just to stop feeling so negative” because I wanted to answer his question but there is more to it than that. I just don’t know how to describe it. This is related to the verbal expression vs. emotional expression discussion. I don’t even know what ‘happy’ is or how to determine the feeling…
I was clear with my therapist that I didn’t really understand everything he was explained to me. I felt terrible I couldn’t grasp it because he tried to explain it in so many different ways to me. He asked me if maybe a more verbal activity would be preferred for next session, which I agreed to. He ended up emailing me two questionnaires to fill out for next session that would help with 1) identifying with particular thoughts and feelings and 2) the observer-mind and when it is and is not noticing thoughts, feelings, and activities. Hopefully this method will help me understand him better…