Session 5: Sue’s OCD journal

Our ‘Sessions‘ series explores sessions at the Clinical Psychologist’s Office

Session 5 at the Clinical Psychologist’s Office

The room is softly lit, exuding a calm atmosphere. Sue clutches a journal in her hands, looking a bit more poised than the previous sessions, but there’s still a hint of apprehension in her eyes.

Dr. Greene: Welcome back, Sue. How are you feeling today?

Sue: Hi, Dr. Greene. I’ve been doing better. Some days are hard, but the journaling has been really helpful. It’s been quite an eye-opener.

Dr. Greene: I’m glad to hear that the journaling has been beneficial. Would you be comfortable sharing some of your entries with me? It might give us more insight into the themes and patterns we’re working with.

Sue: Okay. I’ve noticed two recurring themes from the entries. The first is, of course, the fear of uncertainty, which we’ve already discussed. But documenting it daily made me realize how often I’m bogged down by the “what ifs.”

Dr. Greene: Recognizing the frequency is an essential step. It can sometimes be surprising to see how pervasive certain thoughts are. How about the second theme?

Sue: It’s the fear of self. Those intrusive thoughts about possibly doing something out of character at work. Writing them down made them seem… less intimidating, if that makes sense.

Dr. Greene: Absolutely. By externalizing them, you can see them for what they are: just thoughts, not prophecies or predictions. Let’s delve into some specific entries. Can you share one related to each theme?

Sue: Sure. For the fear of uncertainty, I wrote: “Today, I was asked about my opinion on a project. Immediately, I thought, ‘What if I’m wrong? What if they laugh?’ Even though I know my stuff and have been with the company for years.”

Dr. Greene: And how did you challenge this thought?

Sue: I wrote down that I’ve provided feedback many times before and it has often been appreciated. Also, I’ve never been laughed at for sharing my professional opinion.

Dr. Greene: Excellent reflection. And for the fear of self?

Sue: I wrote: “While in a meeting, I suddenly feared I’d shout something inappropriate. I’ve never done it, but the thought wouldn’t leave me.”

Dr. Greene: That sounds distressing. How did you reflect on it in your journal?

Sue: I noted the context: I was tired and the meeting was dragging on. Then I challenged the thought by writing that I’ve been in countless meetings and never once have I acted impulsively. The thought was just a fear, not a reflection of my true intentions.

Dr. Greene: You’re doing an excellent job confronting and deconstructing these thoughts, Sue. It’s clear from your entries that you’re gaining a more balanced perspective.

Sue: It feels good to have some control over these fears, but it’s still a daily battle.

Dr. Greene: Recovery and growth often are. But remember, it’s not about eliminating the thoughts but changing your relationship with them. Over time, as you continue this process, the intensity and frequency of these distressing thoughts should decrease.

Sue: Thank you, Dr. Greene. The journaling has given me a tangible way to face these fears, and our discussions here help me make sense of it all.

Dr. Greene: I’m here to support you on this journey, Sue. Every step forward, no matter how small, is progress. Let’s continue this good work.

The session depicted above is a fictional representation and does not depict real individuals or actual events. It is constructed based on general principles and experiences within the field of clinical psychology but is not representative of any specific real-life scenario or therapeutic relationship. Anyone seeking psychological advice or therapy should consult with a licensed professional who can provide guidance tailored to their unique situation.

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