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As you know, many dysthymic clients sincerely believe that they do not have the time to feel better. The following Cognitive Beahvior Therapytechnique will help your clients achieve their goals by using their time effectively. These are steps Andrea described in the previous section to solve problems. Solving her problems will make her feel more competent, in control, productive, and proud of herself.
This CBT technique also makes time for activities that soothe or amuse them, adding some much needed comfort or pleasure to their life. The first step, as you know, to time management was to find out how Andrea was really spending her time.
Management CBT Technique
If your clients are reluctant to commit themselves to such detailed recordkeeping, they can take the following shortcut. It will not provide as much useful data, but it will give a general picture of how they are using their time.
Have your dysthymic adult or child client think of four days during the past month: one day that is a typical weekday, a second day that is a typical weekend day (or day off from work or school), a third day that seemed particularly hectic, and a fourth day when they felt more depressed than usual. Have your client reconstruct, in as much detail as possible, exactly what they did on that day and how much time they spent on each endeavor. Next, in the session put it on a flip chart or in a notebook for the client to keep.
With this method, Andrea's typical weekday sounded like this:
Andrea spent eight hours at a job she hated, nine hours sleeping, and three and a half hours watching TV, which she admits she does not particularly enjoy. Then, include forty minutes of commuting on congested freeways that frighten Andrea, and you get a daily routine that might depress even the cheeriest optimist. Looking closely at your client's Personal Activities Chart, together, you will probably find similar connections as well as other behavioral sources of their depression. Of course, your client may also begin to see some activities they can minimize in order to have time for things that will help them feel better.
What is a benefit derived from a client's time management study? To select and enter your answer go to Test.