Starting in vivo exposure, sort of

But I don’t want to start this stage and I’m not sure I even agree with what my counselor has assigned for homework this week. I’m trying to decide if I am fighting it because it will be difficult, or because I think it will be stupid. I am so annoyed right now it is feeling like the latter is more likely.

Counselor looked over my white coats distress list and said we should start with an item that has about 20-30 SUDS rating. It should also be something I can do daily for about 20-30 min to see a reduction in my SUDS rating with more exposure over time. Ok…makes sense in theory.

She selected my event of calling doctor’s offices to make appointments. Hmm…my first thought is I don’t have that many appointments I need to make, and how on earth is a phone call supposed to last 20-30 minutes? And my distress is not related to speaking on the phone itself, it is about the quick decision of committing to something on the calendar. And it is low distress, not something I avoid or even get too concerned about. This seems pointless to work on except I know it eases me into the process for tackling higher distress items.

So she actually recommended that I create reasons to extend my phone calls, like asking the receptionist to wait while I grab my purse or answer the door. I really can’t bother and annoy these poor people with fake situations. I won’t do that. I think it is silly.

She also recommended calling and making fake appointments, then calling back and canceling. This feels like lying and seems a waste of everyone’s time. How is my distress supposed to go down if I am worried about lying and the situation is not authentic? I don’t like this. It seems like she is force fitting this ill advised plan, and my confidence in her is considerably shaken.

I don’t see the benefit to her plan.

I will go ahead and schedule some appointments that need scheduling and document my calls, using my new skills and awareness while I call. I will complete a challenging beliefs worksheet for any stuck points I encounter.

But I refuse to make fake phone calls and stall while on the phone just to log air time. The science isn’t sound here…can’t connect the dots.

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3 thoughts on “Starting in vivo exposure, sort of

  1. Bless you. I couldn’t do that homework either. It’s rude. I hate wasting other people’s time because I hate having my time wasted. I understand the theory behind the homework, but the practice is something else. The other people aren’t aware of the homework. It makes extra work for them. There must be another way of tackling this. Maybe call her office, over and over. That way the only one affected is her receptionist. I wonder how pleased her receptionist would be… so many problems with this plan. I also don’t know a single office receptionist that has 10 minutes, let alone 20-30 minutes to be on the phone with one patient. More likely, you’d end up being put on hold while they answered other calls. How is that supposed to be relaxing? And it doesn’t address the problem, which you clearly understand.

    It reminds me of an assignment given to Donny Osmond. (I read about it in his autobiography.) He struggled with sociophobia. A nightmare for someone who was in the middle of performing the lead in “Joseph and His Technicolor Dream Coat.” His counselor had him go to the store and buy a shirt. The next day, the counselor told him to take it back and return it. It was stressful, and he hated doing it but he did it. The counselor didn’t have him do it for 20-30 minutes every day.

    I wonder if part of the fear is worrying about causing the other person trouble, not feeling like you are worth their time. I’m like that. Maybe it would be more effective to call stores to ask if they have a particular product, something you’re interested in but haven’t made a decision yet, a particular movie or CD.

    Maybe this is an opportunity for you to “confront” your counselor, to disagree in a healthy way.

    • Very interesting about Donny Osmond, I had not heard that one. It is fascinating how many stars struggle with sociophobia.

      You seem to clearly understand the complex and multiple issues here. I do have a fear of causing trouble and bothering people, but that is a different concern, and I only experience that face to face, not over the phone. I’ve actually been known to refrain from asking for something in person, then go home and call in from the safety of my phone. Complaints in person are very high on my distress list and will tackled at a later date I suppose.
      I completely agree, I will use this opportunity to confront my counselor with my concerns and disagree with the method. We ran out of time during the last session, she assigned the homework with little time for discussion. So it will be interesting to see what she says this week.
      Again your suggestion for calling and asking for information about products is a good one, but not something I am fearful about. But doing that in person…finding a salesperson while I am in the store is something I could practice being more assertive, asking for help, interrupting someone while they are working, bothering them, deciding what I need is important enough to disturb someone. And then trusting they will respond nicely, handle it competently, and that if they don’t, I will be able to refrain from calling them an idiot. Some of my fear is my own intolerant response, not all outright fear. The phone gives me space and time to control my face and reaction, gather thoughts before responding, and not overreact to body language signals.

      • Interesting to learn we have the same trouble but from different sides. I’d rather talk to people face-to-face. I’m afraid I won’t hear correctly over the phone. Face-to-face I can watch what they say as well as hear it.

        Perhaps an important reminder is that we are problem solvers. We had to be for the abusers. We simply have no experience in problem solving for ourselves, and now we have to unlearn what they taught us and learn what healthy children learn. We can do this.

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