Counselling Angels: (Part 2) Voices in my head
Updated: Nov 27, 2018
Halley is bothered by the voices of two angels. Her anxiety is extreme. She faces her fears, looks closely at her negative thoughts, re-writes them in a positive and realistic fashion and defeats her negative emotions.
Robert Davies © 2018
Mr. Jenkins, alias Bob-the-counsellor, had listened to Halley who was anxious about having two angel voices talking to her all the time. She had lots of negative feelings and was now exploring the negative thoughts with Mr. Jenkins.
1. PEOPLE WILL THINK I AM CRAZY.
“And how true does that seem to you between 0% and 100%?”
“Write that down.”
1. PEOPLE WILL THINK I AM CRAZY. 100% True
“When you think about these voices, you feel worried, anxious, panicky and nervous. What were you saying to yourself when you felt that way? What were you thinking?
“The two angels will never stop!”
“Will never stop what?”
“Talking to me.”
“Write that down.”
2. THE TWO ANGELS WILL NEVER STOP TALKING TO ME. 100% True
“You were also feeling defective? What were you thinking or saying to yourself when you felt defective.”
“There is something wrong with me.”
“Write that down.”
Bob-the-counsellor and Halley wrote down other thoughts, too, using the other feelings: self-conscious, foolish, discouraged, frustrated, stuck, thwarted, defeated, annoyed, overwhelmed and ashamed.
4. I CAN’T MAKE THE TWO ANGELS STOP THEIR TALKING TO ME. 100% True
5. NO ONE WILL UNDERSTAND. 100% True
6. THIS SHOULDN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME. 100% True
“Okay, Halley, which thought did you want to work on first?”
“People will think I’m crazy?”
“You think that it is 100% true?
“Halley, when you tell yourself that “People will think I am crazy.” And that it is 100% True. You are going to have negative emotions because that is a thought that upsets. “
“What should I do then?”
“Check to see if it is true.”
“When we check for cognitive distortions in that thought and find out that there are some, then that thought can't be very true. Let’s start and you will catch on, okay?”
SO PEOPLE WILL THINK I’M CRAZY.
The first mind trap is All-or-nothing Thinking. When you say ‘crazy’ do you mean completely crazy?”
“Yes, totally bananas – to use my Dad’s expression.”
“Well, Halley, craziness has degrees.
“People can be a little crazy at 10% or more crazy at 40% or even crazier at 70% or completely crazy at 100%. Even completely may not work since it is always possible, I am supposing here, to be more crazy than people think you are.”
“So that would be a mind trap if I think in extremes such as NOT CRAZY or TOTALLY CRAZY?”
“That’s right. It isn’t one or the other. It is somewhere in-between.”
The third mind trap is Negative Filter. You filter out all the positive and keep only the negative. When you think PEOPLE WILL THINK I AM CRAZY, you leave out all the positive thoughts that people have about you. You are a good person. You have positive qualities. You are the captain of your basketball team. You are good at sports – your teammates would back you up. You are blessed to have a family. Your teacher and classmates would have positive thoughts about you. You are well liked. You have a lot of positive stuff in your life. BUT are you filtering all that out?” “Yes, I am.”
“That’s another mind trap.
The third cognitive distortion or mind trap is Discounting the Positive. You ignore all the positive thoughts everyone has about you and think only about being thought of as crazy. That’s another distortion or mind trap. Are you doing that when you think: PEOPLE WILL THINK I’M CRAZY?”
“I guess I am, Mr. Jenkins.”
“It is the flip side of Negative Filter.”
‘Then there is Jumping to Conclusions: you jump to conclusions not warranted by the facts. There are two types: Mind Reading & Fortune Telling. No psychiatrist has deemed you crazy. You assume that people are reacting negatively to you. That would be Mind Reading. Or you use Fortune Telling to tell the future, thinking that people will think you crazy. You can’t tell the future and you can’t conclude you are crazy without proof.”
“Are you crazy?” “No!”
“Exactly, then why would anyone think so without any facts! That is another mind trap.”
Another mind trap is Emotional Reasoning: You reason from your feelings. You 'feel' that people will accuse you of being crazy, so you 'think' that people will accuse you of being crazy. Feelings don’t have brains. That is another distortion. Do you agree?”
“Yes, Mr. Jenkins, I can see what you mean.”
“Another is Labelling or Name-calling. Are you labelling yourself “crazy” or accepting other people labelling you? Have you let people stick a big sticker on your forehead that says ‘crazy’?”
“In my mind, I have.”
“Well, Halley, that is a mind trap or cognitive distortion.
What is crazy for you anyway?”
“It can mean ‘weird”.
“Tell me is it weird to have voices in your head? If so, there are a lot of weird people.”
“ Halley, do you think you are weird?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Can you do your school work, have fun with your friends, participate in sports and enjoy your family?”
“Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of believing PEOPLE WILL THINK I’m CRAZY.
Mr. Jenkins and Halley explored the disadvantages for a while.
“ OK. The disadvantages of thinking PEOPLE WILL THINK I'M CRAZY are:
1 I might not trust people.
2. I could lose confidence.
3. I might stay distant from my friends.
4. I might lose my friends.
5. I am thinking negative which isn’t good.
6. I might worry more.
7. I might lose weight.
8. I might be distracted when I play sports.
“Halley, go to advantages.”
“The advantages are… I can’ t think of any.”
“So would you say, Halley, that it is totally advantageous not to have that thought?”
“Yes, I don’t get anything out of it.” “You don’t get a thing out of it. Sounds like a good reason not to think that thought.”
Together Mr. Jenkins re-wrote Halley’s negative thoughts from lies to ones that were realistic and positive. Consequently, her new thoughts produced positive emotions.
False: PEOPLE WILL THINK I AM CRAZY.
True: PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO THEIR OPINIONS, NO MATTER HOW CRAZY THEIR OPINIONS MIGHT BE.
False : ANGELS WILL NEVER STOP TALKING TO ME.
True: I AM IN CHARGE OF MY THOUGHTS AND MY VOICES.
False: THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH ME.
True: I AM NOT PERFECT BUT I CAN IMPROVE.
False: I CAN’T MAKE THE TWO ANGELS STOP THEIR THEIR TALKING.
True: I AM IN CHARGE OF MY THOUGHTS, MY VOICES
False: NO ONE WILL UNDERSTAND.
True: I DO UNDERSTAND THAT PEOPLE HAVE ALL SORTS OF VOICES IN THEIR HEADS. WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE THE GOOD ONES.
False: THIS SHOULDN’T BE HAPPENING TO ME.
True: THIS IS A BUMP IN THE ROAD ON THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE.
“Well, time to get back to class. Would you check back and let me know how you are doing?”
“I sure will.”
Halley returned to class. She did a few check-ins in the next few weeks. Each time the angel voices were getting smaller and smaller, quieter and quieter. The two angels didn’t get in her way anymore. Her anxiety completely vanished. She had faced her fears. She'd had a good look at her negative thoughts and dealt with them, which is the only way to get rid of anxiety.
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 .