Athens Day 3: Behavioral therapy in the spotlight
Today was the second and last day of the Training School. Tomorrow, the annual meeting will start.
Today was all about behavioral therapy and how to use it as a therapist. In the morning, a video of me was shown from about 12 years ago! I knew that tape existed, but I hadn’t seen it before. It got a bit emotional, because I remembered the feeling I had back then (300 tics in 15 minutes and always feeling down) very well.
Later this morning, together with my (former) therapist, I did a role play about Exposure Response Prevention. It’s a type of behavioral therapy that I’ve had myself. Because I got so good at it, we didn’t do the role play with tics, but with symmetry behavior instead.
We had five empty bottles of water which I put into a perfect position (in line, labels on the same side etc.). Then my therapist moved the bottles a bit, to make me have the “itchy” feeling you get when you have to do a tic or a compulsion.
Later on, I did another role play with Habit Reversal, another behavioral therapy.
I got a lot of questions after the role plays and during the rest of the day as well. I really liked that because it gave me the opportunity to explain things from a patient’s point of view, instead of just the clinical point.
Halfway through the day, professor Mary Robertson came up to me again and she told me how much she’d liked my speech (while she’d just seen the first one, and the others all got even more excited about the second one!) and the thought that – to quote her literally – “I was a very bright, intelligent and articulate young woman.” I had to keep my jaw from dropping when she said that!
Later, she added “good-looking” as well and said I should be on TV to talk about my Tourette and let people get the real look into the syndrome! She went on about that by saying that she was really annoyed – like us all – about the fact that media only like the cursing part of Tourette. She said, “You would be so great on TV, but you’re not interesting enough to them because you’re to good-looking, bright and articulate!’
That was really a “holy-moly-did-she-really-say-that” moment right there! I’m sorry, there’s just no other way to phrase that!
Right now, I’m in my bed, resting a little, because I’m getting really tired and there are two more days to go. In about an hour, my sister and I are invited to join the group of the European Society for the Study of Tourette Syndrome (ESSTS) for dinner at the BEACH (I love the beach, it makes me calm and my tics go away), so I’m about to get ready for that.
One last thing: Yesterday I talked about doing my second speech again, at the ESSTS meeting. It’s not definite yet, but it’ll probably be Saturday, right before the planning of next year starts, so the big people will still be there! One of the Dutch therapists actually said that if there wouldn’t be any time for me, I could just get her time, she just really wants me to do my speech again! So I’m positive it will happen :)