Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mental Health Mondays- Intro to CBT

"They're all looking at me because I look ugly today"
"No one called me today- I'm a loser"
"My partner's been distant lately, I know this will end badly for me"
"If I don't get that scholarship, I'm completely talentless"
"Things will never change"

Have you ever had thoughts like these? Maybe not so extreme, but negative just the same. You might say, "these aren't negative thoughts, I'm just being realistic," and I wouldn't argue with you. But I would ask you how you feel after saying these things to yourself, and how they've benefitted you. If you can't come up with an answer, read on...

This week, I would like to introduce some techniques from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, a relatively new phenomenon that was designed to help people with mood disorders cope with disruptive (often negative) thoughts. These thoughts usually fall into categories, some of which are:

-Over-generalizing ("they all hate me")
-Fatalizing ("I'll always be alone")
-Black and white thinking ("either I succeed or am a total failure")

CBT demands that you dissect your thoughts, the emotions that come with them, how they make your body feel, and conclude with an alternative (and hopefully more positive and realistic way of viewing a situation). Here's an example:

Thought: "I just got a new haircut, and no one's said anything. It must be ugly. I've made a huge mistake, and lost money too!"
Emotions: Insecurity, frustration, sadness, feeling let down, self-consciousness
Body: tired, powerless
New Thought: Maybe they haven't said anything because they're too busy looking at my pretty face, or they want me to know that they accept and like me no matter what. Maybe they're worrying about how they look and can't even see past this. And if they really don't like it, well, hair grows."

Try it out!

These techniques have helped me out a lot... I hope they help you too!


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