Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 5

To be honest, I don't remember much of this session. It seemed very repetitive and almost like I'm going backwards. Nevertheless, I'll recount as much as I can recall.

The Forms
Last week, I had the genius idea of using one form each day to record my mood so I could tot up the totals before my session and lose that stress of trying to remember what I put down last year. I'd had a pretty average week so I wasn't surprised my score had gone down to 12, but this just seemed to really confuse my therapist. She couldn't understand why I'd gone down so suddenly and I couldn't explain it myself either.

When she asked me to rate my week 1-10, I said that it would be about 7 because most of the week was fine but my bad weekend brought down the average. She didn't understand what I was saying and thought the weekend had affected my whole mood throughout the week but, after much explaining, she finally underestood. 

The Analysis
My homework had been to keep a worry diary but, what with work and everything, I completely forgot until the day before but at least managed to record one day. When I explained this, she said "There's some quite severe avoidance there then". Although I protested that I'd just forgotten, she said "There's no such thing as forgetting" and when she saw the baffled look on my face, followed it up with "I know you genuinely think you forgot but you didn't". I still think I did! At least, I think I think I did! (This therapy malarkey is getting confusing!)

We looked at my worry diary and she explained there were three ways to approach them:

1. Worry Time
In worry time, you distract yourself when you have a worry and then allow yourself a certain time each day to just sit and worry. However, we decided this wouldn't work for me as my worries tend to pop up even when I'm already busy.

2. Visualisation
In this strategy, you decide whether a particular worry is real or hypothetical (mine are nearly always hypothetical). If it's hypothetical, you let it go by visualising yourself sitting on a river bank, popping your worry on a leaf and watching it drift away. The theory is that it stops from brewing in your mind but I didn't think this would work for me as I find it very difficult to stop worrying.

3. Challenging thoughts
This was by far the best strategy for me: Taking each worry and challenging it to create a more balanced though. 

She asked me to choose one worry from that diary and we created a thought diary just like we'd done in session 3. This was a bit frustrating for me as it felt like I was going backwards, although I was pleased to see that I could complete it pretty much automatically. Now I just need to try and do it at the time, rather than days after! 

For my homework, I need to come up with balanced thoughts for two of my worries and record how long it took me from the initial worry to creating the balance. She's also asked that I make one of them a worry from home as we've only tackled work-based ones so far. 


Previous posts:
If this post has interested you, you can read my previous post in the series below. Please do share with anybody who it may help as, from my experience, it's very scary to start talking therapies with no knowledge of what to expect.

CBT Session 1
CBT Session 2
CBT Session 3
CBT Session 4

CBT Session 5
CBT Session 6


  1. I'm enjoying this series as the way you explain some of these strategies is actually really helpful - please know you're helping others through documenting your own journey - thank you. I'm with you that 'worry time' doesn't make sense to me either though.. in my mind allocating a time to devote solely to worrying would just would make things worse for me personally! It must work for some people though. Good luck with your new strategy xxx

  2. I'm loving these posts, Becky :) I've had lots of CBT therapy myself so I can really relate to some of the experiences you're having.

    I don't know if your therapist has covered this with you, but something I found particularly helpful was to use a 'Worry Tree'. Google should tell you more, but basically you break down each worry and decide whether you can do something about it, and when you can do something about it. It's sort of similar to challenging each worry, but a little more involved. The diagram you create (either on paper or in your mind) when you work through each worry looks like a little tree, hence the name.

    I hope you manage your homework okay this week x

  3. Excellent post. This series is great, definitely a huge help. I've been through CBT before and you're so good at putting across the actual feel of how the appointment goes.

    I'm useless at the thought challenging as I found I just couldn't get past the actual worry in my mind to get to a sensible, rational thought, and the effort of it at the time was really bringing me down as there were too many worries and too much time on my own with my thoughts, so I just gave up. But I'm in a better place now, so might give it a go again...actually forgot all about the thought challenging until this post, so thank you. xx

  4. My counseller used CBT in my sessions and one thing that really helped me was changing my behavior. Cos there's that cycle that's like thought-feeling-behavior-thought-feeling-etc etc... and if you change the way you behave when you get a negative thought you can re-train your brain :) I worry so much less now, I can't think exactly what techinque helped me. Looking at the bigger picture helps, and also just accepting that I am worried and not trying to force it away is a good way of dealing with it but knowing that it will pass like everything does :) I hope therapy will work for you! xo

  5. Good luck with tackling the thoughts, it's really hard to do (or it is for me with negative thoughts) but so worth it when you can. Hope this week all goes well for you

  6. I don't understand how your therapist couldn't understand how your weekend had brought down your mood average for that week. Surely it's exactly how it sounds? Xx


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