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    Dear F:

    My first quality psychotherapy:

    1. Long sessions- for the first time, a therapist didn’t stop the session after exactly fifty minutes. He stayed with me, continuing the session for as long as needed, no extra charge, as long as he didn’t have another appointment in his schedule. Two hours or more,  instead of 50 minutes was common.

    2. Time between sessions- for the first time, I existed for  a therapist outside the therapy sessions- after every session he gave me homework. Often he would email me the homework after the session, having had time to review his notes and figure what homework will be appropriate. There was an online/ phone call communication between me and him in between the sessions, no extra charge.

    3. He talked- the first therapist I saw did not say to me a single word. He just sat there looking in my direction. My 2011-13 therapist listened to me, asked me questions, shared some of his own life experiences and gave me his input.

    4. Empathy and hard work- he looked like he cared, that he was devoted to the aim of helping me, he did all he could,  in the professional context, to help  me. All that he knew- he shared with me, holding nothing back. He tried hard.

    5. Homework- following each session he gave me a homework assignment that always included a guided meditation that he emailed me (by Mark Williams, a series of Mindfulness guided meditations listened to in order), as well as handouts, copies of material from books to read and worksheets to complete (one of which is the CBT exercise to follow). The next session, most often, we went over the homework.

    – his education and practice was in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He added to it Mindfulness principles and practice of which he learned after school from his business partner.

    Now, the CBT exercise I was referring to, looking in my folder, is called “Daily Mood Log” by David D. Burns. You can google it and get it online (it involved columns and rows that I don’t know how to copy and paste here). It started with “Negative Thoughts”- that would be the place to articulate the thought you have at the gym. Next you indicate the percentage of how much you believe  that thought to  be true. Then you fil in “Distortions”- there is a list of cognitive distortions at the bottom of the form, for example “All-or-Nothing thinking”. (You can read more about cognitive or thought-distortions online and in a book I read “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies” that includes a workbook).

    Next, you correct the negative thought (if you determine it was a cognitive distortion).

    You can google this form and start filling  it in. Then share with me what you filled in and we’ll take it from there.




    Hello F,


    Yes, there are people like you, I am one myself: heavy drinker since age 27, it started in college due to extreme feelings of powerlessness, control over my future, and self-doubt. Add to that my first thought of suicide was as a kid back in 1978-ish and you can surmise I am a lifelong member of the FUL club(f’ed up life).


    My recommendation to you: form a mission statement that no matter how bad, unworthy, confused and stressed you feel, you will not allow your educations to suffer.


    The bad news is there is no therapy, 12-step program or friend who will rid you of your problems. You will have good days, and bad days, and really wtf days sometimes, ok most of the time, but you can still become wildly successful


    Here’s what not to do:

    1. go to the gym too much

    2. do not make it easy to buy alcohol. You want to drink? Fine, but you are walking at least a mile to and a mile back from that liquor store. It will give you time to reflect on your latest downtrend.

    3. do not beat yourself up. You’re gay? You’re a drunk? You’re filled with anxiety? YOU ARE NORMAL. Everyone has no clue what tomorrow may bring, that is why medication is a gazillion dollar industry.

    4. do not tell anyone about your struggles with sobriety. Fight the beast on your own time. google OPSEC

    5. try – maybe start learning to code Python or Java Script. Your nerd power will improve, you’ll meet hyper-pedantic people and learn to enjoy wine time 🙂

    6. In case you didn’t read #3 don’t beat yourself up. Life is hard, very hard.

    7. make a gratitude inventory. Start small , like “Soy feliz que Dios me dio piernas que funciona”. Disculpa mi Espanol – hecho sin Google. being grateful is the start of building joy in life

    8. Visualize your future, research your desired future industry, busy yourself learning about others in your desired field.

    9. accept that suffering is an unavoidable facet to being human.

    10. do not buy into magic beans, there is no easy way to anything life.


    Godspeed young brother, you have literally the best times of your life ahead of you.

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