Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First visit with the new shrink

I met with my new shrink this morning. His approach is very different than my previous therapist. Although, I need to think about it a bit more before I decide if that's good or bad.

Turns out he has been in Germany the past two months doing counseling at a US military base. He is also in a brand new office (which is actually an old house) - and I was his very first patient in the new office and since returning back to the US. So, things were a bit disorganized which he kept apologizing about throughout the session.

Most of the session was spent with him asking me a lot of questions getting background information. He told me that, generally, his first two sessions with a person are this way and that next time he'll be asking me a lot of questions related to my family history. After that, the sessions become more 'process oriented' - although, I'm not really sure I understand what that means.

During the questioning, I explained how I ended years of denial and admitted to myself that I am gay in the Fall of 2006 and then told my wife a couple of months later; but, I was not interested in pursuing a same sex relationship and that I wanted to remain in my marriage and active in my church. He asked me about the Mormon church's view regarding homosexuality. I explained that the church separates attraction and behavior - that there is no sin in being attracted to your same gender, there is only sin in acting on those attractions. Although, later in the session I explained my fears of coming out and not be accepted by other members of the church even though I haven't done anything.

At the end of the session, he said that it is a difficult paradox I am faced with; but, that he feels strongly that it is something I can learn to live with and accept. He then gave me 6 things to consider doing this week. He emphasized that they were not assignments, just things to consider doing, but that I didn't have to do any of them.
  1. Create a timeline of significant events in my life (both positive and negative) and rate their significance
  2. Track and chart negative thoughts
  3. Read "Feeling Good" by David Burns
  4. Check out the web site for Toastmasters
  5. Read "Iron John" by Robert Bly
  6. Do a "Day in the Life" exercise
  • The timeline is a tool to promote discussions on significant events in my life and how they might have affected how I am today
  • Tracking and charting negative thoughts is to promote discussion on what sort of self deprecating thoughts I have, if they are rational, etc.
  • "Feeling Good" is a book on cognitive therapy
  • Toastmasters resulted from me telling him that I felt I had difficulty relating with other people. He thought that might be something to consider
  • The book "Iron John" analyzes a Grimm's fairy tale by the same name to find lessons especially meaningful to men. It is, evidently, the book which spurred the mens movement. (according to wikipedia)
  • The "Day in the Life" exercise is where I'm supposed to imagine that a miracle occurred and I woke up tomorrow morning and everything about my life was just the way I wanted it; then, I'm supposed to describe how my day goes.
So far, I think I'm impressed; although, I'm sure I'll have a more firm opinion after I've had a chance to sleep on it and think about it some more. I made an appointment for next Tuesday. I figure I'll give him, at least, two sessions before I decide if I will continue or move on looking for the next shrink.


Superstar said...

Right on! I like the homework assignments. ;)

Philip said...

I would do the timeline.

Abelard Enigma said...

I've already started working on the timeline. Although, I'm wondering if I'm getting too detailed (it's up to 6 pages in an MS Word document).

I've also started working on the "day in the life" scenario

I may do the tracking negative thoughts

Not so sure about toastmasters. They're more into public speaking, which I'm not into so much. I can do it if I have to; and, I'm not that bad at it. But it's not something I like doing, nor is it something I wish I could like doing.

I checked our local public library online catalog, but they don't have the book "Feeling Good" book by David Burns; so, I'm thinking about ordering it. I'm trying to figure out if I should order th book, the workbook, or both. I may wait until my next session to ask.

I'm wary of the "Iron John" book by Robert Bly. That's the book that started the whole men's movement - you know, going to the woods and sitting in a circle in their underwear lamenting about how unfair the world is to men these days. Really not sure if I want to go there.

Beck said...

Vicariously stimulating...

Please keep sharing!

Silver said...

I’m very excited about your “assignments”. I’ve done some of these things in the past. The time line sounds like a workbook I had in college. There was a “positive thinking institute” in Chicago at the time. The workbook and assignments centered on identifying “Peak Experiences” as a means to build self esteem and confidence. We were to list ALL of our positive experiences in life from the present back as far as we could remember; hopefully it is a very long list; then to group them by category if possible as a means to see patterns of positive behavior or talents that we have. It helps to see in what areas we excel and have success and then to build on those. It was a fun activity for me. I suppose negative experiences could be revealing too but, sort of a downer!.

I’ve recommended the book “Feeling Good, by Burns” for years. My therapist recommended it. Abe, I promise you, it will change your life if you read it thoroughly and put it into practice. It revolutionized my whole way of thinking. Right up there with the Bible. I would just get the book and then work up to a workbook. The book is VERY clinical, not an easy read. Lots of scientific terms, great discussion on medications, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), etc…It revealed to me how negatively I had viewed and talked to myself and helped me overcome many of my judgments; both internal and external. I read it a second time before I really started to be able to apply it. Can’t say enough good about the book!

I understand your fears about the “men’s movement”. I had the same fears. To the extent I have pursued the “movement” I have found that rather than viewing ourselves as victims we embrace our strength as men and build on a mature view of life and human interactions. It has helped me see my role as a MAN more clearly. I’ve found a lot of good things in books from the “movement” that have solidified my masculinity and moved me forward. I’m going to post in my blog about that later this week.

I’m excited for the steps you are taking. Move forward with faith brother. Don’t be afraid of new methods. As they say; “If you do what you’ve always done; you will get what you have always got.” Change can be very good. Just follow your heart, get on your knees and ask for His help. He will guide you and keep you safe.

Sean said...

I'm glad that you like this shrink better. He seems to have a better head on his shoulders than the last one. Keep us informed so we can all be amazing like you! :)