Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shifting Identity and Depression

I have felt really low this week. Down right depressed actually. Its an unusual feeling for me as I have had depression whipped for a good 7 years now.

As I felt utterly desolate this week I used my own skills as a therapist to get to the bottom of it.

Depression usually comes about as a result of a significant loss in the previous 2 years or a change of role/identity. Hence depression often sets in after having a baby, or losing a job, after the break down of a relationship or even at those crossroad moments of life where what you thought was true now looks decidedly shaky.

I think that is what is happening to me. I have been on the most incredible journey for the last 10 years, finding out about life, about my place in it, my spiritual beliefs, men, friends - you name it I have sought to turn what I was taught upside down.

My work as a therapist and especially a Transactional Analysis psychotherapist has been vital. TA has been a rock, a beacon - a firmly held belief. I believe in the sacredness of the soul and of humanities ability to grow. I have long held the view that to remove the obstacles to growth is all I have to do for my clients to naturally flourish. Its all rather mystical and beautiful and instinctive - an Art as opposed to a Science.

Boy oh boy oh boy. How things are a changing for the elf queen. I have now embarked on a CBT course, its prestigious and has the respect of the medical profession behind it. CBT is empirically researched therapy, it has statistics, facts and figures behind it. My identity is beginning to change. Its like being assimilated into the collective, resistance really is futile.

I used to see my integrative style as a strength. My new studies now frame it as a weakness - using an 'eclectic mix of methods based on the therapist's intuition' rather than a 'scientifically proven methodology'.

I used to value my 'hunches'as I consider myself highly intuitive, I encouraged this in my clients. Now I am learning that 'mind reading or fortune telling' is a particularly negative form of thinking that can cause real distress and anxiety. In learning to apply behavioural experiments and looking for concrete evidence I have to say, to my horror, I am beginning to agree with them. The evidence bares the theory out.

CBT is a Science not an Art.

I know this is a real challenge for me. My identity is wobbling, change is happening and like all change it will be painful for a while. I have a script pattern which places me between two polar opposites in key areas in my life. I think this pattern crops up over and over because the lesson I have to learn is to decide what I think, what my opinions really are. I was good at the arts and the sciences at school. I remember agonising over whether to take Physics or English Literature, Chemistry or German.

The basis upon which I work is being challenged, scrutinised, dissected. I am being asked to evaluate my belief in certain theories that have been likened to religious enlightenment. To offer structure and problem solving and to focus on the here and now because there is not any evidence (apart from anecdotal) to prove that dwelling on the past works.

I offer two groups where I work, one CBT - focusing on the here and now approach, and TA which is psycho dynamic and more interested in developmental idiosyncrasies. Both work but my goodness the CBTers are getting better quicker!

So here I am again. Its like growing up, suddenly there are rational explanations for the wonder of life and phenomena. Its like the magick could be taken away all over again.

I don't want to lose me.

I don't want to lose all that I knew to be true.

I don't want to see the world in a bleak cause and effect way.

So I am not going to - CBT does use different language but its still talking about the same things. Falling in love is still an incredible experience even if it can be explained as a biochemical process. Creating our own reality still happens even if you want to frame it as altering thinking styles and setting SMART goals.

This time I have to form my own opinions, not just take someone Else's on board and simply learn it. This is about my identity and magick and love. This is about science and credibility and wonder. Its time to be me. Not many therapists have Post Grad diplomas in Transactional Analysis and CBT.

That makes me unique.

My identity will emerge - till then I will rely on faith.


trousers said...

This is potentially quite a powerful post for me. I say potentially because I need to reread it and let it sink in, not because it's not actually powerful in itself.

But, regardless of the specifics of CBT and so on, the underlying themes here of change and being knocked for six by change - and how you find ways of dealing with that - resonate greatly with me at the moment.

I'm very glad you posted such an eloquent piece of writing and thinking.

Fire Byrd said...

Hold on to you.
CBT has it's place and is very useful. But, in my experience it doesn't offer help as to why someone got to be the way they are. That is where your intuiative you works best. Whatever the science says!
See you tuesday

Kahless said...

I woke up in the middle of last night and immediately thought of a particular number I had read on a work document. My thought was - thats not right.

Thank-fully I went straight back to sleep, but this am I checked the number. I was right in the fact that it was wrong.

I think intuition and hunches are very important to follow.

You strike me as someone who embraces change. I wonder if also there is something else at the bottom of your depressed feelings??

And CBT vs TA?

I guess in part its different strokes for different folks.

But also the length of the outcome period must figure.

Think american banks and their sub-prime mortgage lending. Initially it appeared great and they made loads of profit. A few years later, booooffff. Well we all know how many banks have gone bust.

ps Great post.
pps I bet you are a great therapist.

nick said...

It can be very disturbing when you're forced to change your whole worldview and that has umpteen knock-on effects on your psyche. I'm no expert on therapy but I do know how different the two approaches are. But are they are not both useful, depending on the circumstances and the person's needs? One method may seem to work faster, but how longlasting are the improvements?

Anonymous said...

I would recommend "Practicing Psychotherapy" by Michael Franz Basch. He talks of 'finding oneself unwittingly trapped by the limits to one's thinking that any theory inevitably imposes." It is because of these limitations that it is important that "first one listens to the content of what the patient is saying and the affect that accompanies or perhaps contradicts the patient's words [in my view, this is intuition]. Then, and only then, is it time to see if one's framework can organize it."

TA and CBT have some similarities and neither theory is perfect. The way to make an informed value judgement is through clinical practice and the use of theory and guidance from more experienced practitioners. Challenging and effective personal therapy and supervision are key to the process, lest we begin to interject what we read without understanding how it may fully apply to ourselves as therapists.

Boogirl said...

I have faith in you chickie! ;)

DJ Kirkby said...

Hope you get a mood lift soon. xo

Butch Boo said...

You won't lose you. Change is very difficult but a constant- it's the magnitude of it I'm sure that makes the difference.

You will be fine- stay blogging and as DJ says- I hope your mood lifts soon


LadyLuz said...

As a devotee of T.A. (did 2 years at metanoia) I'm not surprised that your'e depressed if you're delving into CBT.

Yes, the medics like it - it's cheap and time limited. It doesn't work for those with long-standing, intractable (no-go area) problems. And how can outcomes be measured when we're talking about human beings, not machines.

I feel for you...look after you and go and see a TA Supervisor.

Best wishes and blessings.

Queen Vixen said...

Thank you - all of you for your comments. I have adjusted now and am feeling far more OK and positive about things. I will reply individually shortly - and be visiting your blogs which I have not been doing lately.

Blessings xxx

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