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  • Robert Davies

Anger Counselling: a betrayed Teen

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Ella thought that the game of Truth or dare would be fun. She didn't realize that besides laughing there was embarrassment, too, and anger, and anxiety and a whole bunch of other negative emotions.

Truth or dare? is a mostly verbal party game requiring two or more players. Players are given the choice between answering a question truthfully, or performing a "dare", both of which are set by the other players.

Players: 2 or more

Skill(s) required: creativity, embarrassment tolerance

A Painting Can Mean a Thousand Things Both Positive and Negative. It Depends on Our Thoughts.

Robert Davies © 2018



“Say that again, Ella?” asked Mr. Jenkins (Bob-the-Counsellor).

“I said that I felt betrayed.”

“OK,” replied Mr. Jenkins, lets add that to your list of negative feelings. So far, I have you feeling: unhappy, nervous, inadequate, embarrassed (a lot), frustrated (a lot), angry (a lot) and overwhelmed. And briefly tell me about being betrayed again.”

“Well, we were playing a game where you are asked to tell the truth or to do some dare. I had played it with my friends before, and it was fun but not this time.”

"It had been fun, but it wasn't fun this time?"

“Well, the group of boys and girls, would ask really embarrassing questions. I didn’t expect it.”

“You are all in grade 7, right?”

“Yeah.” “But you weren’t forced to join in the game?” “No, but I didn’t think it would go that far.”

“How far?”

“Well, asking if I liked a boy or not. I tried to fake it and say no, but I blushed and everyone laughed.”

“What does that mean?” “Well, it means, that they realized that I did 'like' the boy. I gave myself away by blushing. I just figure someone will tell the boy.”

“How do you know?”

“One boy said he would tell. He's his best friend.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“Well, it is just so embarrassing having someone know that you have a crush on them.”

“I see.”

“And that it won’t be kept a secret.”

“So Ella, you didn’t want anyone to know about your secret crush?”

“That’s right. I feel I was betrayed.”

“It must be hard to worry that someone has your ‘secret’ and is using it somehow.”

“Yes, Mr. Jenkins.”

"It is as if they have this power over me. I feel very uncomfortable."

"Let's add that to your negative feelings: uncomfortable."

"Okay."

"Well, you are feeling pretty anxious and angry in looking at your brief mood survey. That's the quick quiz you did when you first came in. You know where you check off five choices for anxiety and another five for anger."

"Yes, I was really angry. I'd like to punch that boy. I am so angry and so worried about what people will think."

“Let’s look at the thoughts that you had about being betrayed and how true they seemed to you. Starting with your feelings about the incident, we were able to identify 6 negative thoughts:

  1. PEOPLE SHOULD KEEP SECRETS. 100% True

  2. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. 100% True

  3. PEOPLE WILL LOOK DOWN ON ME. 100% True

  4. PEOPLE WILL USE IT AGAINST ME. 100% True

  5. THAT BOY SHOULD HAVE SAID NOTHING. 100% True

  6. I CAN’T HANDLE IT. 100% True

"As I explained, Ella , these negative thoughts are the ones giving you those uncomfortable, negative emotions. Thoughts cause emotions which determine behaviour.”

“I understand, Mr. Jenkins. So, I will keep having these terrible emotions while I believe those negative thoughts?”


"That's right, Ella, but you can get rid of them. We'll start now.Let’s look at the thoughts that you had about being betrayed. Starting with your feelings about the incident, we were able to identify 6 negative thoughts or cognitive distortions or mind traps that took over your thinking. You really believe them to be 100% true. If we can do some detective work and prove to you your thoughts are not true or not as true as you thought, then you can re-write a thought that is really true. This will change your negative thoughts into positive, realistic ones and then your emotions will become much less negative. Do we go ahead?”


“Yes"

“Still, it might be exciting for you, too, to be part of this exposed secret. I wouldn’t want to take this excitement away from you. There are some students that love drama. I don't mean to label you a 'drama queen'. I know you are not. However, there must be fun in this somewhere if you think about it. Maybe we should just leave it as is?”


“No, Mr. Jenkins, I am not having fun. I really want to work on it.”

“Okay. Let’s go ahead then. What thought do you want to work on first?”


PEOPLE SHOULD KEEP SECRETS


“Okay. Right away there is that ‘should’ in your thoughts, and that is cognitive distortion number 8, using should’s, musts, shouldn’t’s, have to etcetera.

There are only three valid uses of 'should'. There is the scientific should as when you let go of a pencil. It should fall because of the law of gravity. Then there is the legal should. You should go to jail if you kill someone. The third is the moral should. For example, it might be wrong for you to spread lies about in order to hurt someone’s reputation. Got it?”

“Yep.”

“So do you have a valid should in “People should keep secrets?”

“Mr. Jenkins, it doesn’t agree with your examples so I guess I can’t say it. But it sure seems as if I can.”

“Well, just think. You have a young teen who has a secret. It is about a friend of his whom you have a crush on. He might think he owes it to his friend and believe that he should tell his friend out of loyalty. He might believe that it is the right thing to do. Don’t you think that might be true? Of course, we don’t know. I am just throwing it out there. What do you think?”

“Well, I see what you mean. I am thinking that he shouldn’t, and he is thinking he should?”

"Ella, that could be. We are just looking at your negative thought from different angles. But I was just thinking that you had a secret, a hidden thought, that nobody but you knew - I am attracted to a certain boy in my class. Correct?"

"Yes."

"However, as soon as you blushed at the question of whether you liked that boy. The secret got out. It was, therefore, public not private."

"You mean that it wasn't a secret to them?"

"Exactly. But some of the kids might not repeat it, knowing it is a little embarrassing. Yet, some would repeat it because it is a little embarrassing."

"I see. Like for fun?"

"Maybe? Or Ella, let's say it is a rule in his head - I protect my friends. I am loyal to my friends."

"Then I would have my rules, and he would have his rules. But both would be different rules!"

"Or Ella, there could be an exception with the boy's rules. He might think, "I keep secrets for my friends but not against my friends."

"Two people seeing it differently."

“ You got it Ella. Now we are imagining different perspectives.

“Can you explain it a bit more.”

“Yes, Ella. For you the ‘should’ is invalid because in a game of Truth or Dare, there is no deal to keep anything secret. Anyway, it isn't against someone's conscience to not keep a secret that a friend needs to know"

“Well, I see what you mean. I am thinking that he shouldn’t tell, and he is thinking he should tell because of what he believes is the right thing to do?”

“It could be. Now with that should statement are you blaming the boy who shared it?”

“I sure am!”

“Well, let me ask you. How did he find out?”

“From me but I was tricked!”

“Still, was it you that put that ‘secret’ out there for a young teenage boy. Did you hand him this ‘secret’ and trust that he wouldn’t tell his best friend whom you have a crush on?”

“Well, yes, but …”

“Listen, Ella, would you have this problem if you hadn’t have said okay to the game.”

“No.”

“Okay, you are responsible for joining the game, for letting the ‘cat out of the bag’. No one did it but you.”

“I see. Yes, I have to take some blame.”

“Yes, that would be cognitive distortion number 10 – Other blame where you blame other people forgetting that you are partly responsible, too.”

“How many distortions is that?” “Three. Do you want to find more or is that enough to prove to you that your negative thought, PEOPLE SHOULD KEEP SECRETS , isn't as true as you first thought?"

"Well, yes, Mr. Jenkins, with the cognitive distortions, my negative thought is not as true as I thought it was."

" How true did you think it was?”

“Well, at the time, I believed it to be 100% True, but it can't be that now.”

“What would be true? What can we write that would be 100% True?”

“People shouldn't keep secrets that really aren't secrets anymore?”

“Let me help you. It has to be a positive thought. Try using, “it would be a good idea … if”. It is best to leave 'shouldn't' or 'should' out of the thought. If we use ‘should’, it makes us angry because we think again about somebody who has broken our rule. People tend to get angry when you break their rules."


“Okay. It would be good if people kept secrets but some don’t.

“100% True?”

“Yes.”

“How true is it that ‘People should keep secrets?

“It is almost not true at all. How about 10% True”.

"Sure, a little true for you still."

"Question? Now that you are thinking differently about what happened, do you feel less angry, Ella? I mean after taking the word should out and owning some of the blame?"

"Yes, I do. I wanted to blame the boy for everything, but I realize I am partly to blame. When I can blame myself somewhat, then I have less blame for the other person."

“ Do you want to continue working on the other thoughts?”

“Yes, Mr. Jenkins. Can I come on Friday after lunch?”

“See you then.”

END

Sometimes All We Choose to See is the Gloomy

Most people like stories, and therapy is all about stories. Telling stories about powerful techniques used in TEAM CBT therapy demystify this therapy one story at a time.

Yet, confidentiality is a cornerstone of all counselling. Without confidentiality, clients wouldn’t feel safe going to therapy to divulge the most painful areas of their lives. To safeguard clients while illustrating TEAM CBT techniques, confidentiality is kept by either having the client’s consent or by distorting the facts, making the client unrecognizable .


Robert Davies

Counselling Therapist

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