Notes on Therapy

Please note, this post is a work in progress.

The brain cycle.

This came up in our session on 2019-03-21.

When processing a trigger, the brain goes through four stages:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotional response
  • Bodily reactions
  • Behavioural changes.

For example, when confronted by a rattlesnake (a trigger), the response might be:

  • “Ah, a rattlesnake! I know that their bites can be deadly!”
  • Fear
  • Bodily reactions to fear, adreneline release - e.g. palpatations, etc etc.
  • Running away, shutting down, etc.

The trigger is usually an event, and is usually not (realistically) controllable. The thoughts that we have in reaction to the trigger are, however. They might be negative intrusive thoughts that are (in reality) not valid, or not a good response to the trigger.

For example, given a trigger of “I played some wrong notes during a solo in a jam”, the response might be:

  • “Ah, I’m bad at playing music, why do I bother??”
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Wanting to quit music altogether.

In this scenario, although the trigger is “valid” to some degree (I might have really played a wrong note), the thoughts that arrived in response are not valid. For example, the thought “I am bad at playing music” is probably patently false - but is a reaction to playing a single wrong note. If that thought can be captured, made external, or expressed separately from the person, then it can be analysed and the subsequent negative emotions, bodily reactions, and behaviour can also be addressed.

Mood log.

My therapist has (as of 2019-03-21) requested that I keep a mood log. The aim here is to help identify the actions/triggers that cause negative intrusive thoughts to try and discover if there is a pattern to them. This ties into the above cycle. In order to help address it, we need to not when and how the cycle starts and the emotions that result from it.

Posted on March 21, 2019
Last modified: Mar 21, 2019
Tags: thinking, emotions, tools