Patience is not one of my strong suits. I am sitting at the Toyota Dealership waiting for my car to be serviced and I was told it could be up to 4 hours. Immediately, I feel my anxiety rise and these automatic thoughts pop up like, “I don’t have 4 hours to wait!” As I settled in to the dealership’s cozy waiting area, I realized how that feeling and those thoughts also come up when I am treating severely anxious clients. I am keenly aware at our first session how long they have been suffering and how their symptoms are affecting every area of their life. I often educate them that I will teach them most of what they need to know about anxiety in 6-8 sessions and they will be seeing progress in that time. However, I also know that it could take up to a year before they see the full effects of this treatment on their lives. I struggle on whether to share this information with them as I want them to feel hopeful and energized when they leave their session with me. I also don’t want to set them up to be disappointed if the treatment progress is slow and difficult. In the beginning, my clients are riddled with fears including: “what if she thinks I’m crazy and what if she can’t help me?” I have to admit I also rumble with the fear of, “what if this will be the client that I cannot help?” This is where having skills in cognitive therapy come in handy. I choose to be realistic and find a middle place to share the facts with them and pull us both away from our fears. I tell them that although the skills are fairly simple, they are not easy to practice. I share that it takes practicing the treatment frequently, consistently, and intensely for their brain to develop new circuits and quiet the old. I explain that we will celebrate every little success along the way and those successes will lead to a life that will be much more fulfilling a year from now. This will take patience from both of us but together, we feel capable of this by the end of our session. I am always amazed how different things look when I develop a new way of thinking about it.
This post is sponsored by nOCD. Dowload this mobile tool for free.
You can learn these and other Cognitive Behavioral Therapy skills by taking our 12 CEU course in the comfort of your own home or office. The Magic of CBT for Anxiety and OCD