I have been seeing my pdoc for 4 months now. Part of my program includes assignments that he gives me to complete in between sessions. Most have been pretty easy as they have not required that I interact or in any way include anyone but myself in the completion of the assignment. However, after our last session my assignment was to pick the one person I trust the most and open up to them about something personal in my life, it doesnt have to be a big thing but just something that I would normally bear the brunt of dealing with by myself rather than seeking a support system.
A couple of questions, have any of you ever been given "outside" assignments from your therapy? I have tried therapy off and on unsuccessfully in the past and never had this sort of thing. Have any of you if you did have assignments not complete them? I am struggling to complete this assignment for many reasons and that is adding stress because I don't know what the consequences are for failure. My last question I guess is if you have had assighnments like this were they helpful?
I think of it more as suggestions than assignments, but yes, my therapist has given me ideas of what I can do between sessions. One such idea was to expand my support system. He suggested I spend some time with my sister as I had very little communication with her over the last few years. It turned out I really enjoy spending her time and I have more in common with her than with the rest of my family.
For me I think being given assignments I wasn't able to complete isn't much of an issue for me. If I think a particular idea is unrealistic or pointless, I tell him right then and there so I can get an idea that's practical for me. If I have a lousy week or something and I am unable to complete the assignment, I let him know and we move on from there.
I think what really helps is my therapist understands my perspective on things rather than just being a stranger who's trying to treat my depression.
Do you feel in the long-term this assignment will be beneficial for you? And do you feel your pdoc is giving you these assignments based on his understanding of you and what may work best for you or is he doing this more based on a by-the-book approach?
I think it all comes down to the nature of the relationship with your pdoc. If he behaves in a more authoritative or inflexible manner, I would doubt how beneficial these assignments would be for you. But if he listens and understands what you're saying I think these assignments would be worthwhile to complete if possible. If you don't complete this particular assignment I would say tell him the next time you see him and ask him for something else that would be more attainable for you.
Last edited by flamesabers; 05-16-2012 at 10:36 PM.
Reason: Grammar Error
The Following User Says Thank You to flamesabers For This Useful Post: tearsnfears (05-17-2012)
Flame, thanks for answering. Yes I think that the assignments have been helpful and I understand the reasoning behind them even this one. I think you are right also that I am making these out to be more of school work than ways to help me, probably because I understand school and can deal with pass/fail environments better than the shades of gray no right answer reality of life in most cases. I will continue to work on this and if I can't complete it now will ask that maybe we postpone the assignment until I reach a point where I feel a little more confident in trusting others.
Yep, it's pretty common to be given assignments or "homework" from pdocs to tdocs. I've had them from many different docs over the years and from many different forms of therapy, CBT, DBT. Depending on whether it was from a pdoc or from a particular type/group of therapy such as DBT, sometimes I might not complete them if they were just too impossible, and sometimes they were mandatory and you didn't have much of a choice in the matter, as with DBT.
Well, so far I have failed to complete the assignment. Mostly for lack of time - the person that I trust is almost as busy as me, and our schedules rarely coincide, but partially because of lack of trust. I am afraid that revealing even one thing will change our relationship forever in a way I am not ready for and so I chicken out everythime push comes to shove and one of us seems to ask for an out. I think I need a stricter deadline from the pdoc in order to force me to pick some thing small and work mu wau to the larger more meaningful issues.
Not sure you'll get that tougher deadline. Most pdocs in a private therapy setting are more "self help" oriented....meaning your pdoc will guide you into what he thinks/knows will help you and make a difference in your life, but he wants you to do it...you to make yourself do the work. Because in the end, you have to be able to help yourself, the pdoc won't always be there....
Telling someone the first time is the hardest and it does change the relationship, but relationships change and grow over time...don't be scared of change, people need to change and grow.
Perhaps it would be easier to ask the trusted person a question to test out the waters? It could be something like 'have you gone through a difficult time in your life and what did you do to get through it?'
Something else you could try is asking your pdoc what are the signs that someone is genuinely interested in listening to you talk about your problems versus someone who's just trying to be polite. I think if the person really does want to listen to you and help you in whatever way possible, he or she will be compassionate and accepting of you instead of treating you poorly or ending the relationship.
Well, I never have completed this assignment. The one person I thought I could confide in for other reasons has seemed to withdraw from our friendship and for the life of me I can't imagine who else in my life I would even consider.
On the other hand I did take a brief vacation and rekindled briefly a friendship from high school with the person that I have always considered to have been my "best friend", we parted ways nearly 20 years ago and haven't stayed in touch really the last 15 other than being "facebook" friends. I guess what makes me saddest about looking back at our friendship growing up is that we were best friends and yet the things that haunt me as an adult took place during that time and I didn't confide even then with her.
I don't think being best friends with someone means you have to share everything with them. Do you think you'll stay in touch with this friend and maybe later on feel comfortable confiding in her?
Perhaps the next time you're in contact with her and she asks you 'how are you doing', you could say something like 'not good' or I'm not sure' and see how the conversation goes from there. I think being able to admit there is something wrong going on in your life would be a good first step to confiding in someone.
I will probably stay in touch with her but I doubt I will confide in her. The sad thing is I feel myself spiraling downward again and feel helpless to stop it. I don't know if the meds have stopped working, if it is stress or if it is the result of a concussion I suffered two weeks ago. I know that the spiral started after that point and concussions can cause depression and I just can't seem to beat this thing. I go for an MRI tomorrow because I am still having symptoms from the concussion so maybe that is the issue but I get so tired of fighting this beast and being told that my coping mechanisms arent healthy, my Pdoc harps on my drinking at every appt okay maybe not harps but asks about it but I just ask which he would prefer alcohol or cutting. I know he wants me to stop both but seriously then what I would have to take up smoking so I would have some vice he could complain about.
I wish that I could be one of those people that coped by feeding the world, helping the homeless or running marathons but my reality is that I drink, I cut and I escape into fictional worlds by reading books and blocking out the world.
I think we something get in the trap of thinking well so and so is my bestfriend, they have been since we were 11 yrs old and in the 6th grade....
The problem with this is that people change, lives change. You mentioned that you parted ways with your "best friend" 20 years ago and barely kept in touch. Do you really still consider yourself best friends? How much do you actually know about each others life?
It's now been exactly 1 month since your pdoc gave you that assignment, and not only have you not managed to complete it, but its added extra stress and anxiety to your life...I don't think that was the goal when he gave it to you.
This is usually the reason that Pdocs give us an assignment and want it back the next time we see them. We are their patients, they tend to know that we can take a simple assignment and work ir over and over and turn it into something way harder than they ever intended it to be, if left in our hands for too long.
I think part of the problem here is that you way have way over thunk the assignment. Your Pdoc asked you to pick the one person you trust the most and open up to them about something personal in my life. If I remember right you have both a husband and a daughter. These would surely both fall under the category of someone you trust the most. And there are tons of things that you could probably tell either one of them.
With you daughter you could turn it into a teaching moment. Or even a fun moment by telling her about something totally embarrassing you did one time in and attempt to keep a guy attracted to you.
We tend to overthink these beginning assignments because we are in such a hurry to get to the heart of the problem and fix it! We want everything to be about it....the exercises are not necessarily designed that way.