Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Computer Therapy (2)

Patricia welcomed me with a smile, her intensely caring expression caused her forehead to crease with concern. Perhaps she feels the need to compensate for the computer's lack of emotion.
“I’ve forgotten my file,” I told her. “I left it on the stairs, by the door, deliberately, so I’d remember. But rushing out... I’m always late,” I admitted, somewhat shame faced. “I forgot to pick it up… sorry.”
It was probably a Freudian slip. I’d not filled in my Activity Diary. To save face, I’d forgotten it. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’m not going to send you back for it. Take a seat at the computer. Same as last week, number 3.”

Making sure I clicked the ‘No’ box to the ‘Have you felt suicidal this week?’ question, I completed the intro to Beating the Blues Session 2.
“Did you do the pleasurable activity you agreed to do last week?” the computer generated female voice asked.
I clicked the ‘Yes’ box.
“How much did you enjoy the activity on a scale of 0-8?”
“Good. Well done.” How much are each of your problems distressing you now on a scale of 0-8?"
I typed ‘8’ into the box for each problem.
"I'm sorry you're feeling so bad. Did you have any upsets or disappointments this week?”
“Please type them in below.”
‘My anxiety score has soared this week, due to unexpected events relating to Jon’s release.’
“I’m very sorry about that,” she said, sounding genuinely concerned. “In order to help with your problems, you need to set some goals. Goals should be positive, realistic, specific and measurable.”
She talked me through what positive, realistic, specific and measurable meant. In order to set my goals I had to click through the scenarios again. The unshaven teacher, slumped in a chair, with a glass in his hand said he wanted to talk to other people at least twice a day, even if it’s only a few words. I felt really sad for him.

The goals I typed in were, to react more positively to setbacks; to do a pleasurable task each day and to sleep through the night. How I’ll manage the last one without sleeping tablets is debatable, but the computer never questioned me on that.

“Automatic thoughts which pop into your mind, as thoughts, pictures or memories are the next stage of the program,” she told me. “They are quite normal, but sometimes the thoughts become distorted and negative, and this can lead to anxiety and depression. In order to gain control of these thoughts you have to become aware of them, and this is where the thought record comes in. Your project for this week is to record your negative automatic thoughts NATs. I’ll print off a Thought Diary for you, together with what we’ve learned this week.

Patricia looked concerned as she handed me the printouts. The computer-generated mood monitoring graph showing my anxiety levels went almost off the scale.“See you next week,” she said nervously.

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Attwood

1 comment:

joannie said...

Something I'm trying to learn, and as of yet am not as good as I'd like to be, is recognizing my part in other people's lives and detaching when certain boundaries are threatened. This is extremely difficult with loved ones and children, or people I care about to say the least because it may seem harsh or uncaring. Gaining control of emotions and facing the truth are components of this. As women I think sometimes we believe we were put on this earth to solve the world's problems and leave little extra energy for ourselves. But I agree that periods of rest and positive, fun things should be planned because otherwise we don't.

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