Group CBT For Social Anxiety: Week One

I have struggled with social anxiety from a young age, but it wasn’t until the start of this year that I took the first step towards professional help. I can’t pin point one exact moment that caused my anxiety, there are many things that probably contributed. However, CBT isn’t about finding the cause, although this can be useful, knowing where your anxiety comes from doesn’t change the way you feel or the way in which your brain responds to certain situations. 

In February I self referred through a local mental health service, in May I received my first call from the service, and yesterday (15th July) I went to my first session. Unfortunately the waiting list for one to one CBT was 11 months, so instead I have been placed in a group for social anxiety. At first I was horrified at the thought of going out and sitting in a room full of strangers and talking about anxiety and therapy, but after taking time to think about it and going to my first session, I have changed my mindset.

Leaving my apartment yesterday was hard. My heart was racing, my palms were clammy, I felt sick, and my whole body felt restless. When I arrived, after walking to the building with my husband, I sat outside for a minute and tried to pull myself together. A couple of equally worried looking people approached the door, so I took that as my chance to stand up and follow suit. When we arrived we were greeted with a refreshment table, a semi circle of chairs, a questionnaire, and name badges. I had already told myself that it would be okay because everyone in the room would be feeling the same way, and seeing everyone displaying their anxious behaviours I felt comforted by our equal discomfort. 

I sat down and realised I should’ve gotten myself some water, had I been in a room with people I didn’t know also felt as uncomfortable as me I probably would’ve stayed sat down and gone without, but knowing we were all in the same boat gave me an odd feeling of confidence. I stood, walked across the room, and poured myself mug of water. I sat down, completed my questionnaire, stuck on my name badge, and waited for the session to begin. 

Out of 15, 14 showed. When the session began we were congratulated for coming, and I can’t begin to tell you how amazing that felt. I came close to crying in all honesty. The recognition that what we had all done up to that point was a genuinely difficult thing to do was so wonderful and refreshing. Social anxiety is something that people don’t take seriously, and to be recognised and understood was a welcome thing. The session was shaped around a presentation that went through what the group sessions would entail, standard crisis information, reassurance that we wouldn’t be forced to do or say anything we weren’t ready to, and an introduction to CBT.

Before we started any learning we did introductions. We introduced ourselves to the person sat next to us and then voluntarily fed back to the group about our partner. There’s something about introducing someone else that feels easier than having to talk about myself, I think some of the others felt the same way too. My partner was lovely, we bonded over certain moments in our life that we’d been anxious about, and we continued to get to know one another during the 10 minute break. 

During the session we got to grips with the CBT formulation, this was a flow chart taken from Clark and Wells’ (1995) ‘A Cognitive Model of Social Anxiety’. The chart moves from the social situations that make us anxious, our beliefs about social performance, perceived social danger, which flows down to  self consciousness, anxiety symptoms, and safety behaviours. The last three all feed into one another and circle back to the beginning. We have been tasked with filling this in for ourselves over the coming weeks, along with a table  for recording our negative automatic thoughts, self focussed attention, and the safety behaviours we performed. The focus and importance placed of ‘home work’ is strong, what we learn in session will only do so much, and it is vital that we apply what we learn to our everyday lives, thoughts, and actions. 

For the duration of the session I felt uncomfortable, but those feelings did reduce over the two hours we were there. Regardless of knowing the context of the group I felt like all eyes were on me, something I know not to be true. My heart didn’t settle until I saw my husband after the group, and the walk home helped to bring me back to myself. These are the feelings that CBT should be able to help with, and from what we covered in those two hours I have hope that it could work for me. I’d be really interested to hear off of anyone who has tried CBT, did/does it work for you?  

I’m going to write up my experience with the group every week and give my thoughts on CBT and using a group setting to help social anxiety. As this was just an introductory session I can’t say if it will work, or really give too much of a review. However, from what we have covered already I am hopeful. I do think the therapy has merit, and I am going to work hard to ensure I get the most out of it. 

Thanks so much for reading, please feel free to ask questions. I’ll be back with more art soon too, but for now you can check out my Instagram and my shop links below for more.

Until next time!

Beth, your foolish slob.


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I’m feeling really low today and I can’t bring myself to do a damn thing, a poem

energy, depleted

mind, blank

desire, who?


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If you like the illustration for this one, check out the links just above this text. Your love & support means so much to me, & interaction always helps me to get out of these funks. I’m going to try to write a longer post about the way I’m feeling at the minute, but for now this is about all my head will let me do. Thanks for reading, and see you in the next one.

Taking a Paws: Kiki the Shar Pei

Although it hasn’t been that long, it feels like forever since I last wrote. As always life came between me and having the time to do anything for myself, writing and illustrating included. This time around my distraction came in the form of Kiki, a gentle old Shar Pei. 

Kiki’s story leaves you wondering how she can stand to be around humans at all, and I for one carry such a great anger in my heart on her behalf. As a puppy Kiki was kept outside and faced awful abuse, including having her tail set on fire, something that you can still see the impact of today. When we met her she was terrified of everything, and she hadn’t been properly taken care of for some time. Her previous owner was not well, and this is why Kiki ended up in the state she was in when we brought her into my home. Before we got Kiki she wasn’t being walked, something we were incredibly taken aback by. Kiki adores her walks now, and her little tail doesn’t stop wagging from the moment we put her harness on to us getting home and putting her shirt back on!

When we took Kiki to our vet we were met with great concern and sadness. Just like us the vet condemned dog breeding, and just as we had suspected, she confirmed that almost all of Kiki’s problems were down to her breed. Shar Peis don’t usually reach double figures, which makes Kiki a very unusual dog, it is very possible she is a mix as she doesn’t have as many folds as you might expect, but what Shar Pei she does have in her is incredibly strong. Sadly it looks as though Kiki has very limited vision, and to make things worse her eyes aren’t producing enough tears. We were given eye drops to give to her several times a day as needed, a job that requires two people due to her size and stubborn heavy head. 

The vet also prescribed antibiotics for an infection on her skin, and special shampoo to bathe her with twice a week. Before we took her in she had been kept in a collar that was far too tight, she has no fur on the band around her neck, and her skin was awfully irritated when we got her home. Her skin condition is not curable, but is instead something that will have to be managed for the rest of her life to ensure she can live as comfortably as possible. We were really concerned at her scratching her sore skin, as she had already cut herself several times, so we found a couple of large t-shirts and they have been a life saver. The shirts have stopped her from scratching her neck, chest, belly, and legs, and she seems much more conformable now. We take it off for walks, and when we get home we use a flannel to wipe her down before putting on a clean shirt every morning.  

It’s looking like our time with Kiki is almost up, and when she leaves I know a piece of my heart will go with her. In such a short amount of time she has become such a large part of my life, and I love her like she was my own. I am going to personally ensure that Kiki continues to receive the proper care and skin management that she needs, and I will be ensuring that she is walked with her harness, and that she is not given another collar. 

Kiki has given me a new appreciation for discovering new things, taking a moment to relish in the beauty of a sunny morning spent on a patch of grass, resting by an open window feeling the breeze on my face, and being patient with those whose story you haven’t heard. I will always remember the time I spent with Kiki, and I look forward to fostering more dogs in the future, and helping more beautiful angels find their forever homes, and giving them all the love I can to show them that we humans aren’t all cut from the same cruel cloth. 

If you ever want a dog, please don’t go to a breeder. That specific cute breed that you’re after doesn’t exist for cute reasons. Dog breeding is an awful practise and I can’t support anyone who chooses to go down that route. There are so many dogs needing homes who have perfect temperaments, not every rescue dog has come from trauma, or has behaviour problems. 

I also want to add that adopting older dogs is an incredible things to do. Not only can you help these beautiful pups enjoy the last few years of their life, but they are so loving and giving, and best of all they won’t chew your furniture or need toilet training (of course as with any dog in a new home chances are they’ll need showing where the toilet is). Kiki for one is one of the most gentle and loving dogs I have ever met, and even though our own forever dog Foxy is a grumpy so and so, the love he gives makes up for any little grumble he might give.

I have so many ideas for poems, illustrations, and posts, and I will share them all here as soon as I can! Thank you once again for your support, and I can’t wait to continue on this journey, and to bring Foolish Slob to life with your help. As always I post frequently on my Instagram, and I have some art for sale on my Bigcartel store, and if you would like to support my art and my family, I have a Paypal that you can give anything at all to. 

Until next time!

Beth, your foolish slob.


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Foolish Slob Pet Drawing Process

Today I have a pet portrait to work on, so I figured now would be a good time to share my process! The only drawing lessons I ever had were in high school, and my only memory from those classes were drawing the same piece of pasta for 4 years. I picked up my pencils last year and decided to start drawing again after developing an interest in tattoo art. A year on I’m still enjoying scribbling as close to every day as I can. Therefore, this will not be an educational blog post. If you want to learn how to draw, check out Draw With Jazza on Youtube, he’s one of my favourite people to watch. Regardless, have a read and check out the cute Foolish Slob-esque dog I end up with.

When we adopted our dog I found myself sketching him sleeping, and from there I drew more and more dogs and cats, and as it turns out I’m not half bad at it. I drew family dogs, and friends eventually got in touch for their own pet portraits. Seeing how much people were enjoying them, and how much I enjoyed drawing them I decided to open up commissions to the public. Since then I’ve drawn some adorable cats and lovely dogs. My style has evolved the more I’ve drawn, and I’m really happy with where I am, but I’m excited to continue to grow and develop my work.

So, to the process…

First I like to get the basic outline of everything down. Super simple stuff, no surprises here. The biggest thing here is to remember that it’s not going to look amazing at this point. All we’re after here are some rough guidelines to help us when it comes to details.

Next I start to sketch in the details that I want to highlight when I add ink to the page. This is where the drawing starts to come to life. As I ink all of my drawings I’m not too bothered as to how great it looks here, I’m just trying to make it as easy for myself as possible when it comes to inking. The simplest shading and fur details make the biggest difference, and if I ever do want to leave it as a pencil sketch I will go into more detail, but it’s not necessary for inked projects like this one.

Now I ink. This is the scariest part. Depending on how long the pencil sketches take this stage can be heart breaking if I mess up as there’s no rubbing out ink. I use the pencil sketch guides and the rest is up to a steady hand and chance. Sometimes I ace it right away and I’ll end up with something I’m really happy with, but other times I’ll spend hours agonising over the tiniest lines to make an eye look just right, or figuring out how far to take my detailing. The eyes almost finished me off on this cutie pie.

The final stage is to rub out the pencil. I’m a really impatient person, so often I have ruined a piece because I’ve been anxious to rub out the pencil and I end up smearing ink all over the page. There’s a fine balance between allowing the ink to dry and leaving it too long so that the pencil just won’t budge. I’ve yet to find that balance. Sometimes the rubber can take away some of the ink so to finish up I clean up any lines or shaded areas, and once the pencil is cleared I can see any spots I didn’t ink, and I can fix up the eyes and other smaller details.

And that’s how I do it!

If you’d like your own pet portrait don’t hesitate to get in touch! I currently charge £25 for an A5 black inked piece like the one I drew in this post. I have a multitude of colour papers to choose from too. You can purchase my art through my Big Cartel store, or you can email me directly at foolishslob@gmail.com with your reference pictures and payment via PayPal, same email. If you’d like to support my art I will always appreciate donations for supplies.

Thanks, and see you next time. 

Beth, your foolish slob. 

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Katie

earl grey and peppermint

a match made in Pret

those walls have heard stories

of love, lust, fear, and loss

a splash of soy milk and tea bags

squeezed between the branches

of a beautiful tree

whose eyes saw me when I couldn’t see myself

a gift given was a life line received

I love you, I love you, I love you

one last thing

I love you


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