Therapy Diaries // CBT Session 7

Something strange happened this week. About halfway through the session, my therapist said "we'll come back to that at some point. Not today though". That doesn't sound like the words of someone who's preparing their patient for the final session next week. Maybe it's not 8 weeks after all. A minimum of 8 weeks, perhaps? I was too scared to ask because, as I've said repeatedly in these posts, I don't feel ready to stop and I didn't want to remind her if she'd forgotten. We'll see, I guess!

The forms
Every week, I hate these more. I have to be honest and say I calculated my scores this week. It's awful, unhelpful and I shouldn't have done it but it just makes me so anxious that I thought this was safer. I knew last week was 16 so this week I made myself a 15- enough to be going down but not so much that it raised eyebrows. Only it didn't work. She was really confused that I'd explained I'd had a great week but still had high levels of a low mood. Moral of the story, kids: Don't lie!

The analysis
I mentioned in passing that I nearly had to use the phone this week and my therapist latched right onto that. She decided that this week was going to be about phone calls and how it relates to my perfectionism. I know that my problems go back to when I was 10, when I called a new school friend, Mel. She answered, I dove straight into conversation and after a long, uncomfortable pause, said: "This is Tasha. Do you want to speak to my sister?" I was mortified and that was that. Now I can't use the phone because I have this overwhelming pressure of getting everything right. I feel put on the spot, pressured to have an immediate, articulate response and convey everything I need to perfectly through the use of only my voice. In short, it freaks me out!

My therapist drew a perfectionism model, tailored to my own issues, which looked like this:

Evidently my perfectionism doesn't extend to drawing psychological models! (As an aside, she based this model on one in her book all about perfectionism. There was a spelling mistake in the model. Wait, just realised that my obsession with correct spelling and grammar stems from my perfectionism!)

As you can see, whichever way I go, I'm stuck in this cycle of perfection. When it comes to phone calls, I'm firmly lodged in the avoidance square! The only way to break the cycle, which I have done on two occasions before, is to accept my "failure" and put positive action in to address it. 

My homework this week is the scariest ever. I need to make phone calls. We're starting with baby steps so, first of all, I need to call Marie for 3 minutes and explain why I'm phoning her up. If that goes well and I'm feeling confident, I can challenge myself to call a takeaway (therapy-approved takeaway!). I found it really difficult to define success for this challenge. Initially, I said "Getting through the phone call without fluffing my words" but my therapist wouldn't accept that. If I do fluff my words, that definition of success would mean I'd failed and I'd get stuck in the cycle of perfectionism again. Instead, all I need to do is get through the phone calls without hanging up and, in the case of the takeaway, have some sort of food delivered. It doesn't matter if I panic and end up ordering the wrong thing. If food arrives at my door, I've succeeded. I'm not going to lie, I'm absolutely terrified! Wish me luck!


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


  1. I hope it's more than 8 weeks then, so you have some more time to work on your issues =) Looking forward to next week to see if it's your last or not

  2. It's great reading about how therapy is going for you! I have a feeling it's probably an average of 8 weeks, with CBT, therapists usually give or take a few weeks depending on how much progress is being made :)

  3. I work in mental health so this is really interesting Becky. I think it's great to talk about how you are feeling as this is something so many of us struggle with.


  4. As someone who is also terrified of making a phonecall I wish you all the luck in the world.

  5. Gah, see I HATE phonecalls too. I'm not sure what it stems from though, I just really hate using the phone, even if it's someone I like on the other end. Interesting to see other people might have this issue too. One thing I do tend to do, which may help you, is write a few notes down beforehand (or is that cheating?), that way you'll remember to say everything you need to and there's less chance of 'mucking it up'.

  6. I thought I was the only one who was scared of the phone! I get so anxious about either making a call or answering my phone, especially if I don't recognise the number. Good luck with your challenge this week - I'll be thinking of you :)

    Jenny xx

  7. I've always hated and been afraid of speaking on the phone. I get so anxious and stressed about making a call, and messing up my words, that I often end up making myself ill! If I can avoid phoning, I will! I tend to bribe the nearest family member to make calls for me! Bad, I know. I think my fear is just from a life time of being extremely shy- I used to be so shy I could barely speak to or around people I didn't know well, but until now I thought I was alone with this fear. Thank you for writing this and making me realise I'm not. (Not that I'm glad you have the fear, too). I can imagine how scared and anxious you must be feeling about making that call, so good luck and fingers crossed it goes well! xx

  8. Good luck with the phone calls- they absolutely terrify me to. I'm sure you'll master it though!

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

  9. I'm terrible with phone calls too. I'll sit and stare at the phone for 10 minutes trying to get up the nerve to make one when I need too, and I barely ever answer the phone at home. If it's important they'll leave a message, or so I tell myself!

    Lauren x

  10. Yep. Phone calls. I used to be able to talk to my friend Beccie for ages on the phone when I first started secondary school but then as school progressed and I got bullied more I lost all confidence around the phone. The biggest issue for me is panicking that I can't hear important information correctly or if I'll generally understand them. I'm not brilliant with accents and my hearing isn't fantastic (though the only time I ever had a hearing test it came back normal).

    I tend to think if they're ringing the home phone either mum will answer if she's in or they can leave a message and I don't give out my mobile number unless I have to. It really stressed me out the day the job centre found out I had a mobile and forced me to give them the number (if I didn't I could be marked as non-compliant and put on a sanction). They said my availability to employers wasn't good enough but employers can email or ring the home phone. I texted my previous boss a few times and answered my mobile to her once so she had it but my current job doesn't have my number. Only the home one.

  11. I used to be scared of making phone calls but I found that if I wrote down what I needed to say beforehand then I felt a lot more confident. Now I usually just say it in my head before dialling instead of writing it down. Good luck with your homework! :) x


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