This session is a recording of a 52 year old man “Callum”. Callum had spent many years in and out of prison and drug rehabilitation units for Class A drug addiction. Callum had been “clean” as he described it for 9 years, regularly went to NA meetings and was committed to the ethos of “in recovery” as being a phase that is lifelong. He now ran a small, successful manufacturing company but considered himself “vulnerable to stress triggers” and was worried that he would relapse, because as he clearly believes “working for recovery is lifelong” .
EM: What does this “vulnerable to stress triggers” phrase mean for you Callum?
CA: I’m getting stressed with the workload – I just want to find a way forward to dealing with it
EM: How do you deal with it now?
CA: I work like mad and then go fishing for a couple of days
EM: Does this help?
CA: Has so far but lately I have been feeling like I did years ago – you know, like the drugs would help numb me
EM: And what would they cost you in terms of life quality?
CA: “Well, everything I suppose – people depend on me, so no I dont want the life that came with it and I dont want to become the person I was all those years ago: bit of stress – get on the gear, that’s who I was
EM: And who are you now?
CA: I’m a straight person, I’m totally straight with everything – its the only way I can cope
EM: And being a “straight person” Callum – how has this enriched your life?
CA: It gave me a structure, my life had been chaos but this business and the life that goes with it – its all good, all good
EM: How have you kept yourself straight and “well” so far Callum?
CA: I do everything straight. My bills, my taxes, even parking fines – pay it all on time, I dont do any scams at all. That is the big difference that came with getting clean
EM: And the way you deal with stress? this has changed a great deal, yes?
CA: Yeh, when I was using and everything was chaos, I used to see people in parks fishing and think to myself “one day if I get straight, I will be that person” and I did. Couple of months into my recovery, I got myself a fishing kit, tent – the lot. I love it and when I sit there, its just calm and I feel really like chuffed that the person I was wanted to be the person I am now – and I’ve got it, that life
EM: I really admire that Callum. Just focusing on that “modelling” thing you did where you saw people fishing and then stepped into that as something that you knew would work for you – can I ask you to tell me about any current lifestyle or way of living that you see around you that causes you to think “that will help and when I am managing my stress levels better, I will be doing that”?
CA: SILENCE…………can I think about that for a minute?
EM: Take your time
EM: Chess? you play Chess?
CA: No but when I was banged up I noticed that the blokes who played chess were calmer, more sorted than us, blokes like me, who took drugs after lock up
EM: Do you see anyone in your new life playing Chess?
CA: My father-in-law does but he doesn’t seem to play much now, I don’t think
EM: So – what is your plan on this?
CA: I don’t know – I dont have one
EM: Sorry Callum – I was jumping the gun there: I just have this image in my head of you doing what you did about the fishing – seeing someone fishing when you were in a “bad place” and knowing it would help you and then setting it as a goal once you got well again. I guess, I also had this image of you getting into Chess in the same way – sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed……
CA: No, no, its right. I did do that – LAUGHS – I have always been told in group that you should break negative patterns but, not all patterns are negative are they? LAUGHS
EM: No, they’re not Callum. what worked for you before – might work for you again – no?
CA: LAUGHS – the only trouble is he doesnt like me so I can’t ask him to be teaching me how to play chess, can I?
EM: Anyone else? Anyone else play chess that you know?
CA: My middle son used to – he played with his grandfather a couple of times, but not now I don’t thin
EM: At this point, I am tempted to ask you, in detail, what your next step will be on that, given that you have identified playing chess as something that would appeal to you and help you – do you want to move on or can I ask you more on that?
CA: Hmmmm – let me think on that
EM: Okay – can I run a Scale Walk with you now, if you have time?
CA: Er – yes, what’s that about?
EM: ROLLS OUT PLASTIC SCALE WALK ACROSS THE FLOOR, THE SCALE RESEMBLES A GIANT RULER BUT SCALED FROM 1-10 WHICH SHE INVITES CALLUM TO STAND IN FRONT OF: Now looking at this scale of 1-10 with 1 being you are not coping at all with stress and are very vulnerable to relapse and 10 being you are doing well – would you stand now Callum on the scale that indicates exactly where you are today?
CA: PAUSES AND THEN STANDS ON 8 ON THE SCALE
EM: Okay. Could you look over your shoulder at the 7 steps behind you and tell me, if you could, what is it that makes you know its an 8 and not the scales behind you?
CA: PAUSE: I remember being at 1, I remember the struggles at 2 – I would say that 3 was the worst and its been easier since 5
EM: Wow – I have never heard such clarity in a reply before Callum – bloody marvellous! LAUGHTER FROM BOTH
CA: I’ve done group all my life Eileen – I talk like a bloody therapist now! LAUGHTER
EM: Okay – this is great. Could you step off the scale now and go up and stand on the 10 please
EM: Okay – stepping into the 10 now, would you describe to me what this 10 means for you, stay small in detail if you would Callum
CA: I relax more. I chill out. I fish, I socialise more with the wife. I stop worrying that I will relapse – its kind of programmed into you sometimes, that thought that you are only ever a day away from demolition!
EM: In detail now Callum, if you would – what are doing differently when you are relaxing……? always doing something or just sitting or what?
CA: Oh, yeh, er – no, its more a state of thinking I suppose – stop worrying and breathe differently
EM: Do the breathing for me now would you Callum – show me
EM: ADJUSTING HER OWN BREATHING TO SLOW DOWN TO CALLUM’S: What difference is that making to your state of mind Callum?
CA: Good….. feel calm…. relaxed
EM: Are you thinking of your breathing like this as a constant or when you are deliberately “chilling out”?
EM: Is that possible?
CA: Yeh, I think so – I am talking to you ain’t I? So if I’m talking to you doing it – then I could do it at work, couldn’t I?
EM: Yeh, I guess you could – do you want to stay there for longer, doing that?
CA: Yes – I’m like one of those bearded blokes you see LAUGHS
EM: Not sure all bearded blokes are relaxed but I know you mean LAUGHS
CA: STAYS BREATHING ON THE 10 SCALE
EM: Can I ask you now to stand off and go back to the 8 scale for me?
EM: Now, I would like you to step into 8 and a 1/4 for me Callum
EM: Looking over your shoulder to the 8 – would you tell me the first small task that you consider would be most appropriate to offer to you that would enable you to move this 1/4 up on the scale towards your goal of managing and progressing in your plans for a more relaxed and coping self?
CA: SILENCE Being someone who can relax and focus every day – not just when I go fishing
EM: What will tell others that you are that kind of person Callum?
CA: My breathing and my calmness
EM: What difference will it make to you and to them – this more relaxed person?
CA: I will be in control and happier and they will feel more relaxed with me
EM: And what will people see you doing as a more relaxed person?
CA: Slower – I will walk slower and listen when people are talking, right to the end of their conversation, not walking away to do something before they’ve finished
EM: Is that someone’s feedback that you have had already?
CA: Yeh, my wife – that’s how she describes me
EM: Ok – that sounds like a goal Callum. Will you choose one small task now for the week ahead and then step off the scale
CA: SILENCE AND THEN STEPS OF THE SCALE
EM: And your task that you have chosen Callum? – I’ll write it on the pad for you to take with you
CA: Bring my son to visit his grandparents and get him to ask for a game of chess – then I will watch ’em and see if I could get the gist of it first
EM: Ok – anything else you want to talk through at today’s session?
CA: No – this is good. I will do the breathing thing as well – do you want to write that down?
EM: Yes, that’s two tasks then. Okay – I would like to see you next week if that’s convenient for you to hear how these are helping and to look at the Scaling Walk again – would this be useful?
CA: Yeh – absolutely. Great – love it. Will do