Cognitive Processing Therapy 4.2 (and 4.3)

The Skill

I started playing soccer my freshman year of high school. It had been a passion of mine for years, but the opportunity never arose for me to play until then. I showed up to tryouts about one week after having ankle surgery and demonstrated an incredible lack of ball skills besides. Somehow, I made the soccer team. My coach saw me as tenacious, teachable, and quick on my feet with "go-go-gadget legs" as my college team would eventually say. One of the things I learned to do quite quickly was slide tackle. I loved everything about this skill. I could strip the ball from almost anyone and be on my feet instantly; running down the sideline before most of my opponents knew what had happened.

Unfortunately, slide tackling on dry ground or turf can be extremely painful. I have had turf burns on my upper thigh/hip more than once. Friction from the ground burns the first few layers of skin off and leaves a very tender abrasion that stings for up to several weeks (especially…

The "In-Between" 4.1

I discharged from my last hospitalization in Washington, D.C. on May 5, 2018. Since that time I have been seeing my current therapist multiple times per week. For several months I would be in her office three times per week, maybe even four times a time or two. Currently, I sit on the couch in her office two times per week trying to express where I am and what I need, or avoiding expressing those things. On Tuesdays I work directly on trauma-focused therapy through CPT (as you know), and on Fridays I am able to work through other parts of my past, present, and future.

I like to think of my Friday sessions as the "in-betweens" right now. For the first two weeks after starting CPT I pulled back on Fridays. I felt overwhelmed and consumed and could not dig deeper than humor, minor life events or activities, and stories. But, the more I backed away, the worse I felt. I tend to get overwhelmed, engage in negative coping skills, and then communicate that I "have a lot going o…

Cognitive Processing Therapy 4.0

In graduate school I had a very intelligent professor who taught Statistics. He was so intelligent that much of the time he did not speak in a language that his students could understand. I tutored many of the other students in my class, but there was one student who did not come in for help. This was his second time taking Statistics, and I think he had all but given up. It was like there was a heavy fog between what the professor was saying and what he was hearing. It was impossible for him to comprehend both the equations and the instances when those specific statistical equations should be used (it may have been that he was on as well). He did not speak or understand the language.
Session four for me was a lot like sitting in Statistics class for my classmate.
At the start of session four, my therapist and I (my therapist and me? - see below for the reason I have no idea what to write here) went over a few of my ABC sheets from the previous week. The activating events an…

Cognitive Processing Therapy 3.0

I was feeling positive the morning of my third trauma-focused therapy session. I went to the gym that morning, bought myself a coffee, and sat down to read a book. I was calm. I was not thinking about what was to come.

My therapist bought a weighted blanket around the time I first started seeing her. It helps keep me grounded. I always sit down on the couch and put it on my legs. The pressure helps me feel calm and present. As soon as I was situated I grabbed my stuck points log and started reading each point. One, two, three...eleven, twelve, thirteen...and fourteen.

"Say more about that. How is that different from a similar stuck point?"

"I don't know."

"Was there something specific you were thinking about when you wrote that?"

"I don't know."

"To your best recollection, what can you think of that makes that statement seem true?"

"I don't know."

Avoidance. I could not provide details about that stuck point. I co…

Cognitive Processing Therapy 2.0

Avoidance. That was the theme for session two. I completed my impact statement declaring all of the reasons I felt I am to blame for what happened. I sent the statement to my therapist, by accident. I was supposed to send it when I finished it, but when I went to hit send I could not do it. I sat there with my finger on the send button for about five minutes. Then, I accidentally tapped "enter." I spent the rest of my weekend feeling dysregulated.
I sat down on the couch at 1:00pm on Tuesday the 15th. My therapist asked if I was ready to read my impact statement. I said, "no." I sat there for a long time. She asked me to take it out, hold the impact statement, and take some deep breaths; I refused. She told me to trust the process; I sat there in silence. She told me she had already read my statement. Me reading it to her would not be new information for her. I sat in silence.
Silence was not exactly what was going on inside of my head. Things were actually quite …

Cognitive Processing Therapy 1.0

I have explained before that when I run a particularly difficult course outside I tend to set small goals for myself. I run from one telephone pole to the next. "This hill is too steep and too long, only 50 more meters to go. Made it." "I am sucking wind, and my legs are burning, 50 more meters." "It is so hot out here, and I am so thirsty; 50 more meters." When a run goes by 50 meters at a time, it becomes doable. It is one small piece at a time until the whole run is finished. I have used that analogy many times when speaking with my therapist about my progress and goals. She turned it on me one day.
In May, she asked me about taking the next step toward the upcoming telephone pole. She was referring to trauma-focused therapy. I kind of panicked, fell of the wagon, buried myself in a deep hole, and self-sabotaged for several months. I don't think it was intentional so much as protective. Trauma-focused therapy would require that I actually look at …

On Being "So Much More"

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson once considered himself to be a failure. He played football in college, and his dream was to become a professional football player. He entered the draft, but he was never picked. He pursued his dream by joining a Canadian league but was cut. In some of his inspirational speeches he talks about how he had no career and $7 in his pocket. Today, he is estimated to be worth a net of $280 million. "The Rock" was considered to be one of the most successful wrestlers in his era, but he left that career to pursue another passion to become a prosperous actor and producer. While I am not personally interested in professional wrestling or the majority of the movies Dwayne Johnson has been a part of, I admire his drive to change his life. 
One of the things Dwayne Johnson talks about is that success and failure are not sudden moments in our lives. He says that we move in the direction of success or failure with each step we take, each second that pas…