ACT or analysis

Quick thoughts on therapy:
My current counsellor has proposed two routes for me to take with regard to fighting the blues. One is Exploratory Psychotherapy (think Freud & Jung but with less sex) and the second is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (think value-oriented mindful action).

The first I apporach with the basic fear of being caught in a blame game and never-ending sessions of attempting to root out a subconscious desire that can’t be proven one way or another. Add to that the basic weirdness of such ‘intimacy’ with a stranger and the horror of opening the broiling wounds of my psyche and the underlying fears and pain that I have spent years learning how to control and it seems a ridiculously frightening and uncomfortable prospect.
On the other hand perhaps some dark recesses would be less shadowy if I faced them, perhaps there is something lurking that a stranger is perfectly positioned to uncover and I would be able to fight my own demons more effectively and just don’t know it yet. Perhaps I secretly yearn to express myself…

The second option has the obvious advantage of a slightly buddhist feel with a smidgen of humanist philosophy and some dialetical language theory thrown in for good measure. I enjoyed mindfulness even if I never had the self discipline to follow through the practice and since ACT can also be used to help manage chronic pain it seems an obvious choice.
What if, however, I am merely throwing another coat of paint over the rust? What if I can’t muster the motivation? What if I don’t put the effort in because I am too comfortable being “ill” even though I’m actually just a malingerer? What if there just isn’t a therapist inside 30 miles?

A huge part of me just wants someone to tell me what to do; to say this is the right thing in your life and you can make it work; to tell me that I’m ok.
Trouble is it doesn’t matter if they do cos I don’t know how to believe them.

Things Happening

Time for a swift update, in no particular order:

  • Dentist today. Rotten wisdom tooth removed. Ouch!
  • Pub refurb. well under way, paint delivered and sugar soap everywhere. This means 1000s of PumpClips to sort, a sort of weird nostalgia trip for long defunct breweries and a soothing sort of alphabetising
  • The trial of the man who assaulted my sister will take place later this week. I will not be there but my father left for France this morning. I hope that the communication barriers will be easily surmontable and that my sister gets the result that best helps her get on with her life.
  • I have (re-)started therapy. Unlike the last few iterations this is not primarily CBT based which I think is a good thing. I am a little too skilled at CBT..with its emphasis on control of thought and action. This will be (it seems) more classically psychoanalytic and so far has taken a definite slant towards ‘dead mother’ issues which is irksome but unavoidable.
  • I am STILL rewriting chapter 1. My loathing of the whole concept of literature review has reached quite mammoth proportions and I fear I will never move beyond this section.

So thats a quick update of my last couple of weeks. I have some rants stored up for you so be prepared.

Prepping for Interviews as a CBT strategy

There is a lot of focus for people today on getting the hang of job (or university) interview technique, books have been written and people from school-kids to the queue at the dole office are encouraged to prepare themselves for certain stock questions.
Now I haven’t done that many interviews in my life (2 for jobs – which I didn’t get & 5 different university based ones – all of which I did pass) but I have never been asked any of those stock questions. In the future maybe my life in the corporate (post-doctoral) world will involve these things but til then I have found a different use for some of them: A new way of framing challenges to set patterns of thought.
The question “What is your key strength and what is your biggest weakness? (Give Examples)” Allows a lot of scope for self-criticism, but if you are forced to frame your answer from the point of view of wanting that job you may be able to learn more positive things even about your own weaknesses.

So what can I learn?

Well, Once upon a time I would have said that my greatest strength was my empathy which makes me good at judging people and persuading them to do things because I am able to work out what is important to them and how they are being affected by the world. Now though I don’t see that as such a great strength, partly because I have become a little more impatient (I don’t suffer fools gladly) and partly because I feel it has sometimes had a detrimental effect on my mental health. Instead I shall choose my integrity – I am honest, perhaps to a fault, I keep my promises and secrets faithfully and I am committed to doing things properly.
This leads to my confession of greatest weakness – perfectionism. I hold myself to high standards and get angry with myself if I don’t meet them, sometimes this leads to procrastination, sometimes to being slow to complete tasks and sometimes simply to bouts of depression. In order to manage my mood and manage my time more effectively I need to be aware of this tendency and use it to my advantage.

Food for thought?