I went to my first CBT training meeting this evening. The group meets at On Our Own, a non-profit group that has been helping citizens deal with life issues since the 1970s.
The room was packed beyond capacity, with over 24 attending. The turnout surprised the administrator. Last weeks attendance was only 12. The group is a new addition to the programs already being offered. I found out that this was only their 4th meeting. They are still waiting for all the training materials to arrive.
At the meeting, I was overwhelmed by the challenges people face. Listening to people’s stories, I was encouraged by the commitment each person had to do better, to be better, to become better. For some, this is new. For others, this is another try. For all, it took courage to be there.
The program is based on SMART Recovery training.
SMART Recovery: SMART is an acronym for Self-Management and Recovery Training. The SMART Recovery approach is secular and scientifically -based, using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and non-confrontational motivational methods
The leader of the group had everyone spend a couple of minutes checking in. We were encouraged to talk about how the past week had gone, what challenges we had faced, and if we wanted to share more, how we got to this point. With the size of the class, this took most of the time.
When my turn came, I was honest. It occurred to me that I could change my name, but I didn’t. I could downplay how stuck I felt the morning I went to the emergency room, but I didn’t. I could minimize the three choices I saw before me, but I didn’t. I could not say anything. But I did.
I shared my goal of finding tools within this group that would help me make better decisions. Depression pushes me to unhelpful thinking styles. This CBT training is designed to interrupt the knee-jerk thoughts and slow down the cycle so there is time to consider all the options.
Many of the group talked about all or nothing thinking. This is one of the biggest challenges I face. Ok, that and mind-reading or fortune-telling. Learning how to think in a helpful way is a skill I am ready to learn. Since depression is not my boss, I can now focus on helpful thinking styles.
As I left the meeting, I was happy. I had spent most of the hour thinking about others, not myself. This happened despite feeling judged as I stood on the porch with the traffic going by, waiting for the doors to open for the meeting. Why am I thinking everyone is thinking about me?
I will go back. The group was supportive. In front of them, I did not feel judged or uncomfortable talking, which surprised me. I shared some of my feelings and did not just report the facts. That made me feel good. It made me feel SMART.
Your comments are appreciated as I learn new skills.