Counselor in Austin specializing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a technique that has lots of research to back it up (for reals, just check out the google’s and they’ll tell you). In particular, it has been shown to be incredibly effective at managing anxiety and depression. I want to discuss CBT a bit here, but before I do that I want to mention what I can offer you in addition to CBT. It’s important that we not forget how the mind stores memories and is a part of processing all of our junk. When you see me, we can talk about how to integrate some of these helpful CBT principles along with techniques that bring the body in as well, such as practicing being in a calm body and noticing what the heck is happening in our body.
OK, what is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and how can it be useful to you? CBT gives us tools and exercises that can help with different types of thinking that many of us do. Here are a few examples:
All or nothing thinking: AKA black and white thinking (i.e. “If I can’t do something perfect, there’s no point in doing it all all”)
Mind reading: Assuming we know what others are thinking, usually about is (i.e. you see a friend who appears distracted and think “they must be mad at me”)
Fortune telling: Predicting the future (i.e. “people are going to hurt me and I will never get close to anyone” or “I will always be sick and nothing will ever get better”")
Jumping to conclusions: Not gathering enough evidence before we make our decision (i.e. “I can’t do it” or “he’s coming over for the week and I know it will be terrible”)
Emotional reason: Making decisions based on how we are feeling (i.e. “I’m feeling afraid to do this, so that means something terrible is going to happen to me” or “I feel bad, so that must mean I’m in danger”). To manage this, I find it helpful to think of using our “wise mind” here. This is a combination of our emotional mind and our reasoning mind… they’re both good, but each on their own isn’t always helpful. The wise mind is that sweet spot.
Personalization: Blaming ourselves or taking responsibility for something that isn’t always our fault (i.e. “my parents divorced because I was a ‘problem child’”)
Of course, my favorite, when we start “should-ing” all over ourselves: Set up unrealistic expectations for ourselves that no one would be able to do, which often results in frustration (i.e. “I should always get 100% on everything”, “I should finish all of this work right now”)
… any of these sound familiar? These are all incredibly common. The problem is NOT you, it’s figuring out how to manage these thoughts.
Ultimately, this way of thinking, although common, just isn’t helpful. Instead, CBT helps us to have a better understanding of our brain. It helps us to look at our thoughts and study them… get to what the primary message we received originally was (i.e. “I’m stupid” or “I don’t deserve to be loved”), and investigate it.
** Reach out today here or at 512-553-2054 to set up your FREE 15 minute phone consultation to talk more about CBT. **
Let’s look at one of those tools now, called a thought record or the way more fun way to think of it… let’s be our own brain detective! The idea is that our thoughts impact our feelings, so the thought record has us track our thoughts. Here, we practice the 3 C’s of Cath it, Check it, and Correct it.
First, think of a situation that happened recently when you became upset. For example, let’s say you screwed something up at work and an order didn’t go through correctly.
Next, what was the emotion you started feeling? For this example, let’s say you felt angry.
Try to catch your automatic thought. This is the thought you had right after you had the emotion. For this example, maybe it was, “I’m so stupid, I can’t do anything right!”
Our next step is to check that thought. So, is that completely true? Am I really stupid? Is it true that I can’t do anything right? Is having this thought helping me to get closer to my goals or feel better? Probably not.
The final steps is to, you guessed it, correct that thought. What would be a better and more accurate thought to have? Could it be that I need to go back and figure out that process, that maybe I didn’t understand it?
What was that activity like for you? Is this something that you might start practicing?