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.