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Yesterday we had our fourth counselling session. This is the time when you decide, if ready, whether you and the therapist are going to stick with each other for the rest of therapy.

For no particular reason this led off into a discussion on how therapy worked at the institute and what effect having a limited time with each therapist means. Different therapists are working at different levels (some therapists, some counsellors) and different modalities, with my current one developing her integrative skills.

What is good about this is that each therapist takes a slightly different view, with his/her different skills, level of development and personality. By the time it comes to the end of 9-10 months with a therapist I feel I know what they’re going to pull me up on and I can avoid those areas if I want to. I enter a comfort zone with my therapist and I’m not there to be comfortable. I do wonder what happens when you’re with the same therapist permanently and you feel so comfortable that it stops being challenging.

Each year you are assessed, by a separate therapist, who determines what level and type of help you need and assigns you a therapist with whom you then start. You can specify gender as well if you want to. So I have to explain myself from scratch in a session and then start the same again. Every time I do this it’s different because I am at a different stage in the process and what I’m thinking about or wanting to focus on changes as my perception of reality changes. This new assessment always encourages me to re-assess myself: where I am, what I’ve learned and what I want to focus on.

The disadvantage of this of course is that I spend several sessions with each therapist just telling my life story, and depending on their level of training it might take them a month or two before they really participate and start working me. But I feel this is a minor disadvantage.

This institute is safe; I feel comfortable and relaxed walking through the door. It’s a happy positive environment. Also whenever I talk to psychiatrists or psychologists or therapists of any sort and mention the name, they either trained there, or respect it as one of the best (or indeed both). So professionally it has a superb reputation and I trust the organisation. This means that I don’t really have to learn to trust the individual therapist as they sort of come pre-vetted. The other vast advantage is that it’s cheap. Fees depend on means but start at £5 a session. Can’t complain about that!

This was not really what I went in to talk about.

Where do I go this year? The big vision (going back to #5) is the freedom to be me, to be happy. This is quite a wide woolly vague vision although still perfectly valid. I don’t know how to make that big step so I’m starting with the little steps that I can focus on.

These are:-

Reading Beautiful You and going through the challenges without beating myself up over skipping one (#15) or not doing one every day. I skipped yesterday and am not going to manage it today as well. Learn the little habits, like smiling at myself in the mirror rather than frowning, or stopping self-denigrating thoughts before they form in the hope that eventually they will just stop forming. I know it’s all about changing my mindset, how I think, how I see myself and these little things will help me change the bigger picture.

Exercise: I am focusing on enjoying it. I’m thinking about the short term immediate benefit, not the long term putative better fitness that may follow after a year or two. But I am thinking about this good feeling that follows exercise, feeling energised and able to sit down and word harder and concentrate  more at the PC. I’m doing, or aiming to do a half hour in the morning (workout or Zumba) and then when I feel like slumping in the afternoon doing an hour or so of dancing or some such  exercise. I am focusing on that energising feeling and I’m noticing the difference in what my muscles can achieve between one day and the next. I’m trying to just think about that. I’ve done well these past few weeks, have mostly had 2 sessions every day, and again, I’m not beating myself up if I only do one or don’t manage any. I’m trying to tweet them when I’ve done for the record but seem to forget more often than not.

I’m not really trying to focus on anything else. These are two major things, blogging every day which takes time and nigh on two hours in front of the Wii as well. I need to plan meals better and all that sort of stuff but these two will do for now. What matters is whether I can keep this level up over the next few months and not lose interest as I always have done when trying for a sustainable lifestyle change.