Homework that Helps: Using CBT Workbooks to Reduce Anger

Man writing in bookEditor’s note: Tempus Bell is a continuing contributor to the Share Your Story feature on The Good Therapy Blog. Tempus Bell’s previous article is Stigma: Come at Me, If You Can!

Just the other day I made a choice to stop going to a therapist that I haven’t seen in over three months. I stopped going to this therapist because they told me when I called to make a scheduled appointment that they were going to have to ask the therapist if they wanted to see me again because I have a record of canceling. This made me feel really uncomfortable to go back to them. It made me feel as if I was more of a dollar sign then a person with a mental illness.

I am in the process of finding a new doctor, but until I do I am looking online for free help, at the urging of my previous therapist. Did you know that there are workbooks online that are for specific mental illness and mental problems? Why do you have to pay all this money and insurance and doctor fees when you can go online and find the same kind of information you would get from your doctor?

It’s hard for me to find a therapist because first I have to like them, second I have to feel like they understand me and like me, and third I have to feel like I’m not a money bank to this organization. If those don’t line up, then I won’t go back. I have seen a total of three therapists and two psychiatrists in my life. I do not have a history of going to a lot of doctors and messing up the relationship. I’m actually really skeptical of doctors and hospitals because I feel like it’s always about the money and not really about my illness and me.

So to help myself in the meantime, until I find a doctor, I have downloaded some cognitive behavioral therapy workbooks to help me understand where my anger and depression come from, other than my mental illness. CBT therapy is a form of treatment that focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. So it’s a therapy that helps you understand why you think something, how you think it, and how to help you try not to think those thoughts anymore. CBT has been helping me since I never understand where my anger comes from. It seems to come over me out of nowhere and I’m just always angry for nothing. But by writing things down and going through the workbooks, I can look back and actually see the trigger of my anger or depression.

When I was seeing my last therapist, she gave me handouts from a skills-training manual for treating borderline disorder. While she said she didn’t think I had borderline personality, she thought that the worksheets and handout she gave me would help me in my situation. I recently rediscovered them and thought to myself, if she can print out something from a website and give it to me as homework, why can’t I do the same thing?

I started to search Google for bipolar worksheets, anxiety worksheets, and anger worksheets, and that’s when I came across cognitive behavioral therapy and related worksheets online. I printed out two sheets: one for anger, and one for depression. The worksheets have homework that takes a whole week to do, and after that week you go back, look at what you did, and try to put together the pieces of how you feeling the week before.

Consistency is not my strong suit, but I know that I need to figure out what my triggers are and why I’m feeling the way I am. These worksheets haven’t cured me, but they have put in perspective the possible reasons for my anger and depression, other than my mental illness. I can’t do anything about my mental illness other than take medicine and go to therapy, but if I don’t want to take medicine and go to therapy what else can I do?

I find the trigger and let it go.

Here are some websites that I’ve found for worksheets on CBT training and other worksheet help. Good luck my friends, and please tell me if you know where I’m coming from!

OhTemp writes a blog called Bipolar, Unemployed, and Lost, which you can read at bipolarunemployedlost.com.

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Andi

    Andi

    January 17th, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    Don’ you just hate it when any medical provider makes you feel more like they are out for the money than they actually are helping you? I don’t blame you for looking for someone else, I think that I would have to do the same thing!

  • jake

    jake

    January 19th, 2015 at 8:47 AM

    not sure that a worksheet would be my cup of tea???

    i think that i had quite enough of those in school

  • Constance

    Constance

    January 19th, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    You know, I am that person who always needs things to supplement whatever it is that my therapist and I have talked about so having things like this that I could work on at home would be a wonderful addition to my treatment plan! I can see how there will be those who find this method very much a turn off, and there may have been a time when I thought that it would be too much work too. But now I am at a place where I understand that I need that constant work to keep me focused and with my eyes on the things that I need to do to make my therapy a success. It hasn’t always been like that but I am understanding myself And my needs far better now than what I have in the past.

  • Mike

    Mike

    January 19th, 2015 at 3:48 PM

    In a nutshell, a therapist helps you to see your blind spots. A therapist gives you a different perspective on your life than you have consciously. It’s hard or impossible to get that on your own, even with worksheets.

  • Brandi G

    Brandi G

    January 20th, 2015 at 9:12 AM

    As a psychologist, when clients cancel at the last minute, or fail to show up, it means that, yes, we don’t get paid, that we showed up to work, wasted an hour of our time when we could have been working, and it means that a client who calked in earlier, desperate for help, could not get help that day because my schedule was full. It also means that the client is not ready for, or fully committed to the change process. We are compassionate, caring people who don’t make much money after our overhead (expensive rent, etc) are paid. I went a whole year without a paycheque when I started my practice. Just want to give readers another perspective to why we may not want to continue to book a client who hasn’t shown up for several appointments. As for the worksheets, I agree that they can be very effective if a person cannot see a professional and I recommend them all the time. People change when they are ready and motivated to do so, whether they see a professional, do worksheets, or alike.

  • Brady

    Brady

    January 20th, 2015 at 5:09 PM

    Even though I know better, it never ceases to amaze me when a client misses a session due to apathy or some contortion thereof. The lack of respect some clients can have for their therapists, and consequently, other clients, as you mentioned, is dumbfounding. It’s also part of the territory at some point.

    From my experience, it has been clear that there are mental health clients who are as committed as can be, and nonetheless have timeliness issues. These are symptomatic of their poor mental health. When such clients seek help from a mental health professional, they are eager to learn to manage their issues. This is especially difficult for those who have limited, if any, support; these particular clients generally live alone. Due to the lack of support, these clients are a much greater suicide risk. I have found this particularly true amongst the PTSD sufferers with whom I’ve worked.

    When I’ve been faced with this type of scenario, I’ve learned I get the most out of it by using the time to further my research, broaden my understanding and such. I quickly understood that each session isn’t going to go like clockwork, if at all. There’s rarely a cancellation. The issue I contend with is tardiness. In contrast to those who just don’t care, knowing a tardy client cares and doesn’t want to be disrespectful is actually a comfort, and an insightful piece of the puzzle.

    I wish you the best.
    May you truly experience lovingkindness.

  • RYDER

    RYDER

    January 20th, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    tHIS IS SOMEONE WITH WHOM YOU ARE LIKELY SHARING YOUR DEEPEST AND DARKEST FEARS AND SECRETS. OF COURSE IT IS SOMEONE THAT YOU HAVE TO TRUST AND HAVE FAITH IN THAT THEY CAN HELP YOU THROUGH WHAT YOU PERCEIVE TO BE YOUR WEAKNESSES

  • Tess

    Tess

    January 20th, 2015 at 3:02 PM

    Hi there
    CBT and therapy really helped me with depression I was lucky had a great therapist but most of the work came fro me admitting I had depression and doing the work and changing thought pattern !!!! It’s like life what u put in u will get out!!!

  • Maddie

    Maddie

    January 21st, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    A big part of any therapy is doing homework on your own time. This might not be doing worksheets, but it could be reading, talking, writing, anything that allows you to practice and implement the things that you have been learning about in your therapy sessions. There is nothing that is going to work when you do it for 30 or 60 minutes a week. There will come a time when you have to actually put all of this into practice, and I think that most therapists would suggest doing things like this on your own time to aid with the recovery and therapeutic process.

  • Willis

    Willis

    January 26th, 2015 at 3:41 AM

    Thanks for the above links to self help materials. I think that there are times when you just need a little something extra to reiterate what work you are doing with the therapist or group, so thei could be the right answer for some.

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