WWW http://readie.blogspot.com

Monday, December 12, 2005

Dr T and Me: It May Be Over

Regular readers may remember that I have previously declared I have all the time in the world for The Lovely Dr Tanya Byron. Dr T is the clinical psychologist who transforms little shits of infants into lovely little kiddos in programmes such as The House of Tiny Tearaways on which I am, quite frankly, hooked. I watch, typically, impressed by Dr T's kindness, positive attitude, and ability to work wonders.

It is with sadness, therefore, that I must report that cracks are starting to appear our relationship. It may, dare I say it, be over.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when a nervous mother came into the house. She has a food phobic kiddo, and it was identified that Mum had a problem with the little tyke getting dirty.

So Dr T of course set up an exposure exercise - fruit picking. Little kiddo would get mucky and both Mum and kid would hopefully learn that their fears of mess were unfounded.

So far, so good. But then the unimaginable happened: I saw Dr T give said Mum an elastic band to put on her wrist. The idea was to flick it each time an anxious thought appeared, and to try and block this thought and think more positively.

No, no, no! Blocking or avoiding anxious thoughts only makes them come back even stronger! What the hell are you doing, Dr T!

Instead, shouldn't the woman should be asked to live with the anxious thought - possibly even make it worse (he's gonna get messy, if he gets messy he's gonna get germs on him, those germs might kill him) - and be asked to see what happens? Blocking a thought means you never get to find out what would happen if you lived with it (and, in any case, blocking is near impossible to do - "think of any animal other than an elephant" and you find yourself thinking of an elephant).

Interestingly, Dr T felt that many of the kiddo's problems stemmed from the mother failing to deal with many of her emotions. So how come it was OK to block out anxiety, but not to block out other emotions?

Argh. This was painful. I felt my respect for Dr T crumbling.

Now, I have to admit that my own mental health issues mean that I suspect I get disappointed in people too easily. So I decided to give Dr T the benefit of the doubt. I did not withdraw from the show. No - I stuck with it.

Last night, though, she buggered things up again. This week, we have a kid in the house who is seriously phobic about animals. Tanya exposed said kiddo to a rabbit and a guinea pig to see quite how phobic kiddo was. Answer: pretty damn.

It wasn't the exposure exercise that bothered me. It was the fact that Tanya reassured the kid that nothing bad would happen. Promised, in fact.

h, Dr T, reassurance doesn't work - it feeds back into the anxiety. Also, you didn't seem to ask the kid what she was scared of. You decided for her ("now, I think you're scared because of the way the rabbit's moving, but nothing's going to happen").

I of course hope the kid's phobia is reduced over the week, but I can't help but feel the approach is flawed. Surely the kid should be allowed to discover whether her fears are founded? I was terrified of flying. All the statistics in the world about flying being the safest form of transport didn't help. I can't be sure the plane won't crash. I have to go and see. Chances are, once I do, I'll realise I can reappraise the risk level I've attached to the activity.

Similarly, our little animal phobic kid isn't going to be successfully reassured that rabbits don't hurt people. No reassurance will be good enough for her. And, in any case, we can't be sure the rabbit won't hurt her. It might go and scratch her. But she has to take the risk and find out.

Dr T: it's been a blast, but I fear these may be irreconcilable differences. I may have to bid you farewell. I can live with the occasionally gothic makeup, and the somewhat dodgy dress sense, and even with you being referred to as "Dr" Tanya Byron in a way that would make most people think you're a medical doctor even though we both know you're simply a PhD, but - really - when it comes to bad anxiety advice, I have to draw the line.

So consider this your first, friendly warning. If you give better advice tonight, I'll give you lots of praise. If, however, you do not change your line in tonight's show, I will ask you to do so again, in a firmer, lower voice, while on your eye level. If you do, lots of praise. If you don't, time out. This is an extreme form of ignoring which will show you I will not accept this behaviour. You'll spend time in your room by yourself - one minute for each year of your life. So expect to be in there for half an hour or so.

I've also created an "Anxiety Advice from Tanya" sticker chart. Every time you give bad anxiety advice, you'll get a cross. Every time you give good advice, you'll get a sticker. Once you get three stickers, you gain a treat - possibly me watching another one of your shows.

I know it might seem tough, but you really must learn.


  • At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Jo said…

    Hi McReadie,

    I hope all is well with you???

    I'm sorry it's taken me a few days to reply, but I just wanted to say thank you for the birthday message you left for me.

    I like Dr T too, but sometimes I can't help thinking that a few of the parents in shows like this partly have themselves to blame [for example if they were too leniant when the kids were tiny, so now they're monsters].

    Never mind, it still makes good viewing. ;)

    Happy Wednesday,



Post a Comment

<< Home


[ Registered ]

Listed on Blogwise