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Alan's story

Alan's story

“I was finding life really difficult. It wasn’t just related to the pandemic, and to lockdown – but that didn’t help, on top of everything else we were all at home all the time. Life was fraught. I became aware things were getting on top of me, and I wasn’t really managing my emotions. I felt completely burnt out, and there was no-one I could turn to. It got to the point I thought I needed to reach out and get some help.

“I’d heard ads for Ieso on the radio, but it was my wife who pointed me in the direction of the service. She’d had CBT before so I knew vaguely what it was all about, and I felt open to it. I didn’t need to make an appointment with my GP or anything, I could just go on the website and refer myself. They contacted me pretty quickly off the back of that.

“Normally, Ieso’s treatment sessions are done via instant messaging, but I was offered the chance to have video sessions over Microsoft Teams as part of a pilot. This was fantastic: I found that talking to someone I could see made a huge difference to how much I got out of it.

“My therapist was fantastic. We didn’t get onto the CBT techniques straight away; we spent the first couple of sessions mapping out the ‘vicious cycle’ behind the difficulties I was having. This helped me understand how my emotions and thoughts led to behaviours, and to unpick the reasons why I was finding things difficult and what had set the train in motion.

“I became aware of the rules I live by, and the triggers which drive my behaviour – most of all wanting to solve others’ problems. I learned that I have responsibility for my own behaviour and feelings, and can do something about them. But the same isn’t true for how other people feel and behave. I can’t shoulder that. That delineation was very powerful, and it lifted a huge weight off me.

“If I ask myself ‘is there anything I can do at this point?’, sometimes the answer is no. But sometimes I have the choice to do something different.

“After getting an understanding of the why and what, we went on to practical strategies and philosophies: ways of looking at things, and what I could do and not do to make life easier. These centred around ways in which I can take more responsibility for changing how I behave.

“My therapist would send me messages in advance of each session, asking me to think about what I wanted to bring to the agenda. The more time I put into that, the more I got out of it. I also had ‘homework’, particularly towards the end of treatment, which involved practising techniques we’d discussed. This was often driven by me; I’d say ‘this is what I’m going to try out at the weekend and see if it works’ and the therapist would guide me. If it worked, I’d learned something. It wasn’t onerous at all – I just did as much as I felt I could take on.

“In all, I had 12 sessions, over six months, which were an hour long. Towards the end they became less frequent and also shorter. Basically the scaffolding was slowly taken away! But I understood that if things had started to go sour it would have been a sign I wasn’t quite ready yet.

“During the last couple of sessions we summarised and articulated what I felt I’d learned, which reinforced what I’d found useful. We also made a plan for moving on and retaining the techniques I’d learned after treatment.

“They’ve definitely stayed with me, and four months on I feel OK. We’re in lockdown again, and life still throws curve balls; not every day is good. There are still times the things that drove me to seek therapy pile up and get on top of me, but now I have the ability to manage them a lot better. I’m more self-aware, more in control, and dealing with it in a more constructive manner.

“I found CBT treatment really really useful. I liked that it felt scientific and measured, and it’s evidence driven. It’s basically training in how to handle what life throws at you; the difficult moments. It was a very positive experience for me, and has given me a powerful tool.”

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