Things that go bang in the night:(Part 1) Standing up to anxiety
Updated: Mar 6, 2019
Reno can't sleep in his own bed. Bob-the-counsellor helps Reno using techniques: the Mood Log, the Fear Ladder and the Feared Fantasy
Robert Davies © 2018
“Reno,” I am going to change the subject here and talk about those quick quizzes you did when you came in.” “The ones on anxiety and stuff?”
“Yesiree, Reno, and it looks as if you are feeling really, really anxious. At least, that is what you ticked off. What’s going on? Maybe I can help?”
“Well, I have ghosts in my room.”
“Gosh, that must be scary!”
“Are there a lot of ghosts or just one or two?”
“ There are one hundred and forty-nine ghosts!”
“How do you know there are that many?”
“Well, I counted them.”
“Well, at night. They only come out at night.”
“Where did you see them? in your room? Under your bed?”
“In the closet.”
“Have you tried closing the closet door at night?” “Oh, they’d just squeeze through the crack under the door. You can’t stop them. That’s why I changed bedrooms.”
“When was that?”
“About two years ago.”
“Nope. Two years ago.”
“I remember. It was on my birthday and I have my birthday soon.”
“In two weeks.”
“Well, Happy Birthday! In case I forget, I will write it down in my agenda book.”
“By the way, is your room empty since you don’t use it for a bedroom?”
“No everything is there. I play there. I got all my toys there. I keep my clothes in the closet. My bed is still there, but I sleep with my brother in his bunk bed.”
“What about the ghosts.”
“They only come out when I go to bed.”
“I see. Well, tell me about those ghosts. What do they look like?”
“Well, there are all types. Some carry their heads under their arms. Some you only see a kind of white sheet with holes for eyes. There’s even one that looks like a fat genie. He looks kind of nice, but I’m not fooled. They are just pretending to be nice in order to get me.”
“Are there any ghosts that you are scared of more than others?”
“Well, the zombie ones are pretty freaky with the way they move and how ugly they are.”
“Reno, I have lots of tools or techniques that can help you with this anxiety. But maybe I shouldn’t. I mean your brother is used to your being in his room. He’ll miss you. Anyway, it sounds like you have a bedroom that is a great play room, too, plus another room with the bunk bed where you sleep. I wouldn’t want to take that away.”
“Mr. Jenkins, my Mom isn’t happy with me not being in my room. Besides my brother is going into grade 7, and he likes to have his friends over. He is planning a sleep-over. With me in grade 3, I cramp his style, he says.”
“So, it is best that you go back to your room?”
“Not exactly, I am scared that they are going to get me.”
“Going to get you?”
“Yes, kill me!”
“Is that what is worrying you? That ghosts are going to kill you?”
Reno nodded yes.
“Okay. Let’ s do a mood log. Write down what I write.
Reno copied down: GHOSTS IN MY CLOSET
“So, when you are thinking of ghosts in your closet, you circled a bunch of negative feelings. When you are feeling "Frightened", what are you thinking again?”
“That the ghosts are going to kill me.”
“Okay. How long have you known that these ghosts are out to kill you?”
“Ever since I can remember but especially two years ago. I started worrying so Mom let me move in with my brother.”
“Okay, let’ s say the ghosts have been trying to kill you for two years. Is that right?”
Reno disagreed with a shake of his head.
“I started sleeping there when I was three, so I was there with the ghosts more than two years.”
“Could we take two years just as an example even though it might be more than that?”
Reno agreed with a nod.
“Okay if they kill only when you are asleep, that would be about 8 hours a night of the chances to kill you?”
“Yes, Mr. Jenkins.”
“Then we can say that two years is 2 times 365 days, right?”
“Yes, Sir. I don’t know, but I believe you. I am only in grade 3. ”
“So that would be 703 nights in which to kill you, but they haven’t killed you, right.”
“How long does it take for a ghost to kill you? If they hit you on the head, you can die right away. If they stab you in the heart, you die almost immediately. So would 10 seconds be enough to kill you? Let me count up to ten … one steamboat, two steamboat.” Ten seconds later, Mr. Jenkins asked again.
Reno said yes.
“Okay, then how many 10 second chances are in one night? There are 8 hours times 60 minutes. That makes 480 minutes. Then 480 minutes times 60 seconds gives us 28,800 seconds divided by the 10 seconds needed to kill you. That’d be 2, 880 chances. Then we times that by the number of nights which is 703 would give us over 2 million chances to kill you in the last two years. Wow! Why are you still alive?”
“I don’t know.”
“And I was just thinking, Reno, that 2 million chances would be for each of those ghosts. How many did you say there were?”
“So we can say each ghost had over 2 million chances to kill you. All together that would be almost 300 million chances. That is about all the people in the United States or 8 times all the people in Canada.”
“And I am still alive!”
“Exactly. So, if after over 300 million chances and the ghosts still didn’t kill you, what are the chances they will kill you if you slept in that room tonight?”
“It sounds like they won’t.”
“Exactly. So when you think of the ghosts killing you, where is your anxiety between 0 and 10?”
“Well, I’m not so worried now.”
“It’s about your gym time, Reno. Can we finish this tomorrow?”
“Sure, Mr. Jenkins.” Mr. Jenkins settled the time and walked Reno to meet his class in the gym.
Go to Ghost Counselling Part 2
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 .