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Advice for first CBT; also question about smacking

(19 Posts)
merricat Mon 10-Aug-15 21:20:26

I would have put this in Mental Health, but figured I get more responses here. Sorry if it's inappropriate.

I have my first session of CBT tomorrow morning. I tried it before, about five years ago, and hated it - one session, trainee therapist, lots of crying, and going home feeling awful.

Should I have a list of things to talk about? It's easy to forget things or not express them properly at the first session. What did you do?

(A couple of things I have going on: dysfunctional history with mother; sadness and anger about father's death (related to mother); infertility; career meltdown; self-medication with alcohol; childhood homelessness / neglect / abandonment; self-sabotage / self-destructive tendencies).

I also wondered what you all thought about smacking, especially those of you who were smacked as children. When does 'childhood smacking' become 'violence', really? I think a large-ish proportion of people would say they were smacked as children, but a much smaller percentage would say they experienced 'violence' as children. What's the difference? Because I don't know what to call it. When my mother did it, I think of it as smacking, but when my uncle did it, it seems worse somehow.

merricat Mon 10-Aug-15 21:46:29

Also, the CBT is at 9am tomorrow. I know this is an unwieldy thread with a lot going on, so I'm grateful for answers just about the smacking part. When does 'smacking' become 'violence', or is it all just semantics? Thanks.

GoogleBoggle Mon 10-Aug-15 21:48:55

I think smacking is always violence, it's just that we were raised to think of it as normal and socially acceptable. Any time you hit someone it's violence and it's actually never ok.

I think you should be guided by your therapist on all the other stuff. You'll find that the sessions take shape quite naturally. Good luck - CBT is amazing when done well. xx

merricat Mon 10-Aug-15 21:55:57

Thank you Google. I do agree with you - but I'm, as you say, socially conditioned to normalise it, and I don't want to be seen as coming across as over-dramatising something that is just 'normal'. It's hard to know if I'm over-reacting, I suppose.

moopymoodle Mon 10-Aug-15 22:13:26

All smacking is abuse. It's not acceptable to hit an adult to drum the message home so why a child?

I've never laid a finger on my children and I never will. I still have raw memories of a few smacks that turned into violent beatings. I never want my children to feel how I did

sumoweeble Mon 10-Aug-15 22:31:03

CBT can be very helpful for many people and I hope you get a good therapist. However, CBT tends not to focus on your childhood and past life events and doesn't try to understand how these may have caused/contributed to your current pain or difficulties. It's usually more about managing current symptoms by monitoring thoughts, physical feelings and actions. It may be worth exploring a different type of psychotherapy if you were expecting to talk about your past more and feel that this could be helpful once your CBT is finished.

re: when is smacking violence? It is always violence, imo.

Summerlovinf Mon 10-Aug-15 22:36:30

While CBT focusses on making positive change in the present, it does take childhood and learned behaviours, core beliefs and significant early relationships into account. It can tackle issues that stem from childhood.

merricat Mon 10-Aug-15 22:36:55

Thanks moopy. At what stage did you feel that 'a few smacks' became ' violent beatings'? Sorry if that's a horrible / triggering question, it's just that it helps to try to understand what I experienced. Smacking from my mother was horrible, painful, and confusing. When my uncle did it though, it felt worse; maybe because of his size, the fact that he was a man, the fact that he wasn't my parent. No implements were used (just hands), but the way he did it, and the size of him (I'm guessing 17 stone 6'3" man against a 4 stone 8-year-old me), and the unpredictability of it. But I know that a lot of people have been through much worse: hence not wanting to over-dramatise.

sumoweeble Mon 10-Aug-15 23:11:22

Please don't worry about over-dramatising. There is no such thing as over dramatising in therapy. And there is no objective way to measure violence either. Your uncle hitting you has affected you profoundly and exploring that is likely to be very important. Good luck for tomorrow.

ShebaShimmyShake Mon 10-Aug-15 23:14:19

My late abusive father smacked me a lot as a kid and in later years thought it was hilarious and loved talking about it. It went from there to, while I was a teenager, slapping me across the face, punching me in the mouth, kicking me in the legs, throwing books and furniture at me and whatnot, in fits of rage. And because smacking was considered socially acceptable, he thought that was totally acceptable too. He didn't see it as any different. He actually thought he was a good guy who deserved praise to the skies for not hitting me with an implement, and would wibble on endlessly about how wonderful he was for hitting me with his hands so that he experienced some of the pain too. Oh fuck you Dad.

I was born in the 80s and I remember the smacking debate going on every now and then, but generally the consensus was always that it was ok, not abusive and so on. Teachers at school said much the same thing. It was often joked about on television. So I thought I was being unreasonable not to want to be slapped across the face by a man twice my size and 40 years older. I advocated smacking myself, as a youngster.

So damn glad the tide is changing now. So damn glad society has changed and my viewpoint with it. I know you're dead now, Dad, but fuck you anyway.

ShebaShimmyShake Mon 10-Aug-15 23:36:10

I'm sorry, merricat, I didn't mean to hijack your thread. It's a sore topic for me, as you probably guessed.

Abuse doesn't always fit within neat lines, but anything that has stayed with you this long and this negatively has got to count. I also think that kids pick up on what's in the smacking adult's mind. I imagine that it would be easier to deal with if you got the impression that the adult didn't enjoy it but honestly thought they were doing the right thing, no other way to discipline you effectively. I suspect the reason your uncle's smacking distressed you more was because you sensed on a certain level that he was deliberately abusing his superior size and strength and the fact of his masculinity, and perhaps enjoying it on a certain level. I certainly know that my father enjoyed hitting me because he talked and laughed about it years later, the shitbag. That makes it much harder to bear than pain I don't even remember (from childhood, I remember the teenage abuse like it was yesterday). Perhaps the same thing is happening to you.

Be open and free in the therapy, it is your time, and I hope it helps you.

Norest Tue 11-Aug-15 00:09:42

I think it is always violence generally speaking.

What is important if this is an issue you want to take to CBT is to address how you felt about your uncle doing this, and work on ways to manage those feelings.

I think a list can be useful. Remember you can always talk about more things in the subsequent sesions if you forget anything. The first session is really about getting to know the therapist a bit better and them getting more of an in-depth idea as to that issues you would like to address. But they are there to guide you and to help you figure out what to focus on, so it's more than fine if you feel a bit confused or overwhelmed.

Hope it goes well tomorrow and good luck. Also here are some flowers to celebrate you taking a really big (and often scary!) step towards more healing and helping yourself. It's a courageous thing to do, so rememebr to feel proud of yourself too, for doing something kind for yourself.

moopymoodle Thu 13-Aug-15 07:16:46

Personally op I think any form of violence is abuse. I wasn't phased by the minor slaps but once was beat so hard with a trainer and another time with a huge bottle of body lotion.

I've forgiven my parents though, they where a product of their own parents and made mistakes and regret them. I just know I will never ever follow in their foot steps

holeinmyheart Thu 13-Aug-15 07:34:47

I was smacked by my Mother but with my Father it was emotional abuse. Both are undesirable qualities you want in a Parent.
Surely their job is to protect and support you. I consider all shouting and smacking of children to be abuse.
I have been attacked on Mumsnet for saying that I think shouting at children is emotional abuse, so not all Mumsnetters agree with me.
My Parents were beaten by their Parents but there are Parents of their era who were kind and loving. I just think unfortunately I was born into a dysfunctional family with a history of derangement. Torturing your children was the norm.
I am so glad that the climate is so different now. However there are still children out there ( Parents often post on Mumnet that they are fed up with their children and shout at them) who are suffering. It makes me very sad.

applecatchers36 Thu 13-Aug-15 07:37:38

In terms of the smacking, using an implement is abuse and would be a child protection concern now. You are still allowed to smack your children without leaving a mark/ implement. I was smacked on a few occasions by my loving parents but wouldn't consider it abusive rather of it's time /outmoded. I would never hit my DC though.

In relation to CBT I think there is a misconception that CBT is shallow & present focused. If done properly it can look at your childhood experiences, core beliefs and schemas. Having said I think the most important thing is your relationship with the therapist, if that is right then it is more likely to be effective.

Good luck.

mummytime Thu 13-Aug-15 07:50:52

CBT - or any counselling therapy - you need to trust the counsellor, you are potentially going to make yourself vulnerable. If you just "don't click" then I'd be inclined to try and find another one. (Easier said than done, but its at best a waste of time and at worse harmful to continue with the "wrong" one.)

Smacking - its probably always violence, but ... not everyone who was smacked in the 60/70/80 etc was treated violently. Lines were crossed if: the head was hit, an implement was used, it continued after about 10 years old, it happened to children less than about 2. It really should have been confined to hands and bottom. And should never have been carried out angry.

And the first parenting group I went to I was "surprised" to find that almost all parents there "believed" in smacking. It was a bit like finding they all secretly were into S and M, or some other not talked about, slightly embarrassing practice.

shovetheholly Thu 13-Aug-15 09:03:56

I agree with previous posters about CBT - it's not an indepth investigation of your deep inner state, but tends to focus on things closer to the surface like patterns of behaviour and thought that are damaging.

Of course, there will be a bit of a session at the start where you need to explain to the therapist why you act/feel the way you do - and this is likely to be difficult. However, once you're through that, it gets much easier. Courage, mon brave!

Smacking - My mother smacked, and it almost always descended into something much more violent with fists and anything she could lay her hands on being used. She continued to do this right up to the point I left home. It was devastating and humiliating and hurtful on all kinds of levels and completely inappropriate. I think if you feel uncomfortable about the way you were smacked, that is the thing that matters - and not what anyone else thinks.

HPsauciness Thu 13-Aug-15 09:09:59

I think my mum smacked me once in my entire childhood and she cried afterwards. That's not abusive, it was just an end of the tether moment. What everyone else is describing, and I'm sure you have experienced, is a much more persistent violence which is deeply upsetting. I also think being hit by your uncle sounds an odd dynamic, why would he have been disciplining you so aggressively anyway?

I hope the counselling helps, it sounds like you have a lot to get off your chest, it may be that it can't all come out in one session of CBT but try to see that as a starting point.

sumoweeble Thu 13-Aug-15 15:47:05

How did it go, merricat?

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