Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Addressing Negative Thoughts


This episode was pre-recorded as part of
a live continuing education webinar. On demand CEUs are still available for this
presentation through ALLCEUs. Register at ALLCEUs.com/CounselorToolbox. I’d like to welcome everybody today
to cognitive behavioral therapy addressing negative thoughts. Now a lot
of us took courses and cognitive behavioral therapy we’ve worked with CBP
for many many years so some of the this is just going to be a refresher and
others you know you may pick up a few new tips or tools as we go along so
we’re going to define cognitive behavioral therapy and its basic
principles just get a really basic refresher on what was that original CDP
about well identify factors impacting people’s choices behaviors because you
know they always have a choice we’ll explore causes and the impact of
thinking errors whether you call them cognitive distortions irrational
thoughts or when I work with my clients I try to call them unhelpful beliefs or
unhelpful thoughts because distortions and irrational seems sort of pejorative
to me so I try to avoid those words as much as possible and help clients see
them as not incorrect necessarily but unhelpful and then we’ll identify some
common thinking errors and their relationship to cognitive distortions
and some of our just very basic fears why do we care
well because cognitive distortions or irrational thoughts or unhelpful
thoughts whatever you want to say really impacts people on a physical level a
mental level and an emotional level a person who perceives the world is
hostile unsafe and unpredictable will tend to be more hyper vigilant until
they exhaust the stress response system so think about you know a bottle ship
and you’ve got a bunch of new people on this battleship and all the sailors
every time there’s the least little thing they send off the
all-hands-on-deck so a big bird flies over and I mean literally a bird and
they freak out found me all hands on deck and this goes
on for a week or two or six months you know let’s think about our clients they
don’t usually come in right away where everything is set to OFF that startle
response everything sets off that fight-or-flight response the staff
starts to get exhausted all the rest of the sailors that have to drop everything
and run to their battle stations after a little while they’re like really no no
we just we can’t even do this and it also reminds me of the boy who cried
wolf anyhow I digress sticking with the battleship metaphor so eventually the
captain says you know what let’s retrain on what is worth setting off the all
hands on deck because everybody here is exhausted and nobody’s even really
responding anymore when they come to their battle stations they’re just kind
of dragging their butts in like whatever it’s probably another false alarm the
same sort of thing is true with us when we’re on on high alert for too long our
brain says you know what we got to conserve some energy in case some really
really big threat comes along so it turns down what I call the stress
response system it turns down the sensitivity so you don’t get alerted for
every little thing that would cause you stress but you also don’t get alerted
for those little things that would cause you happiness either anything that would
cause the excitatory neurotransmitters to be secreted you’re just not getting
those anymore which a lot of people kind of refer to as depression it’s just kind
of like the F whatever and only the biggest most notable things actually
cause an emotional effect we don’t want people to get to that point that’s no
way to live so we need to help them learn how to sort of retrain their
spotters to figure out what is actually stressful a person who perceives the
world is generally good and believe they have the ability to deal with challenges
as they arise will be able to allow their stress response system to function
normally there are going to be times you have all hands on deck whether it’s a
real emergency or whether it’s just a drill but it will happen and they can go
they can you know do what they’re going to do they have that adrenaline rush
they have the energy and the focus to do their jobs and when it’s over they
go back to their quarters they can relax refresh you know just kind of chill for
a while and then there’s a low where their body rebalances before the next
one and this is kind of what we want in life I mean ideally we wouldn’t have
super high peaks very often but we want to make sure we give our body time to
rebalance after there’s a stressor and not have to stand on on edge not be
hyper vigilant constantly just waiting for the next one to come along so what
is the impact of these thinking errors well whenever we have that stress
response system activated the body is saying we either need to fight or we
need to flee so you’re dumping all kinds of adrenaline and other neuro chemicals
so there’s anxiety there can be stress when people start having this reaction
you know they start having muscle tension sweating heart rate increases
breathing increases people will call that anxiety some will label that as
anger either way they’re both sides of the same coin
they need to do something but if it lasts too long then we start moving into
depression and they just they don’t have to get up and go anymore there’s just
not any excitatory neurotransmitters really left they need some time to rest
and rebalance behaviorally think about it if you go somewhere and you are just
constantly on guard are you going to keep going there or are you going to
withdraw so people who have a lot of thinking errors unhelpful thoughts tend
to withdraw more they may turn to addictions to kind of numb or blunt some
of the inputs sleep problems and changes when you are hyper vigilant when you
have this stress response going even if it’s not a full-bore if it’s still there
somewhat if you’re stressed out you’re not going to sleep as well you’re going
to maintain higher levels of cortisol so you’re not going to get that restful
rejuvenating sleep you may kind of goes on and off eating changes you know
depending on the person some people eat the self food that some people can’t eat
it all but we do see that the hormones Guerlain
and lets them get all out of whack not under stress but also when sleep
gets out of whack when your circadian rhythms get out of whack so we’re
starting to see the Cascade effect where it’s emotional and behavioral physical
you’ve got stress-related illnesses that start coming up if you’re on that lunch
you’ve got muscle tension for that long it starts to hurt I mean you start to
get migraines your back starts to hurt wherever you store your stress so to
speak it starts to come out and most people when they’re under a lot of
stress for an extended period you know a day is not a big deal for most people
but for an extended period become more susceptible to illnesses they start
getting sick easier headaches GI distress you know some people store
their stress right in their gut socially think about the last time you were
stressed were you patient and tolerant and just a pleasure to be around you may
have tried to be but you’re more prone to irritability and impatience and again
wanting to withdraw all of these affects contribute to fatigue and a sense of
hopelessness and helplessness which often intensifies thinking errors so
you’ll see this negative reciprocal interaction if somebody feels stressed
out and overwhelmed and that they withdrawal then they may start feeling
like they have no support and they don’t and they lose all their social buffers
to the stress so they feel even more stressed so they want to withdrawal even
more so we’re going to talk about how to prevent that now I like this little
diagram maybe because it’s got a heart in the center I don’t know
but behavior feelings and thoughts this is the outside of the circle all three
of these impact diecuts each other when you do something
it often impacts your feelings and your thoughts about a situation when you when
you’re thinking if you think positively you’re probably going to choose more
positive behaviors and more have more positive feelings you’re thinking
negatively obviously you may choose more of an escape behavior
Protection behavior and may have more feelings of anger anxiety depression etc
so these things are going on and they’re all interacting the one really cool
thing is if you break this chain somewhere or this circuit then you can
stop that reciprocal negative downward spiral so cognitive behavioral helps
people who are willing to show up or who are willing to address their thoughts
not everybody is willing to start addressing their thoughts right away
maybe they want to start addressing their sleep problems in their eating
problems or something that’s more physical okay that’s fine because
anywhere we interrupt this circuit is going to have positive effects assuming
the intervention is positive it’s going to have positive effects on the other
ones so what about the triangle well yourself
so you’re feeling thoughts and behavior impact you it impacts how you feel and
you’re like well yeah okay just stay with me but the way you feel think and
act impacts your future and it also impacts how you interact with others so
you know that kind of affects things because remember social support is a big
buffer for us now core beliefs and you can do this inward to outward or outward
to inward but either way it comes down to core beliefs if you have positive
thoughts and positive feelings and you generally engage in positive behaviors
to keep that cycle going you will probably feel pretty good about yourself
have good relationships have a somewhat optimistic feeling about the future and
your core beliefs may be more like people are generally good I can do this
you know very self affirming and other affirming positive core beliefs about
yourself in the world now if your thoughts or feelings are negative then
you have this negative outer circle you don’t feel so good you start questioning
the goodness and Trust ability and dependable
of other people you have more of a bleak look in the future so what do you think
is going to happen to the core beliefs the core beliefs may change too if
someone doesn’t love me I am completely unloveable they may
change to being more extreme more negative and more difficult to rectify
if you want to have somebody who’s happy I mean you’re not going to have somebody
who’s happy who thinks the world is an unkind unpredictable scary place going
it’s just wonderful roses today so we have to help people try to adjust
eventually start adjusting those core beliefs and when we get into causing
that behavior remember the ABCs your automatic but
well your automatic thought then your and beliefs are what happened as soon as
that event occurs and those you don’t think about that’s why they’re called
automatic so when you have the ABCs these core beliefs are those things that
pop up that we need to address so what factors affect this and whoops you know
there’s a lot of stuff right here and EBP they call them vulnerabilities you
know we’re just going to talk about in general different factors that affect
the choices our clients make in terms of behaviors so negative emotions if they
are not if they’re feeling angry if they’re feeling anxious they’re feeling
depressed they’re probably not going to be really motivated to get up and engage
in a whole lot of self affirming activities they’re not probably not
going to be having a lot of positive self affirming thoughts they’re going to
be focused on whatever is causing that distress and maybe escaping from that
physically pain and illness when you don’t feel well it’s harder to be Susie
sunshine I don’t think many of us are just a barrel of monkeys when we don’t
feel well so if our clients have pain this is one
of those if you want to put it in behaviors behavioral areas physical
areas we can address and have them go see their physician have them go see
their physical therapist and get recommendations so they aren’t feeling
physically painful physically and distress all the time because physical
distress and emotional distress both mess with sleep unfortunately sleep
is the first thing to usually go and I’m not talking about quantity I know a lot
of clients who when they get depressed they’re in in bed for you know days
they’ll get up they’ll maybe shower and you know go back to bed and they’re
sleeping a lot but it doesn’t mean it’s quality sleep so what we need to look at
is what is the quality of their sleep are they getting that rejuvenation the
time for their brain and neural chemicals to rebalance so they can feel
happy so they can have that nice balance of all the the neurotransmitters they
need to feel happy poor nutrition well no matter how much sleep they get if
they don’t have the building blocks to make the neurotransmitters and the
hormones that are needed to prompt the feelings the physiological sensations
that we’ve labeled happiness or excitement or you know even depression
and anxiety those are all caused by different neurotransmitters being
secreted in different combinations if your body doesn’t have the building
blocks to make those then it doesn’t matter how much sleep you get you’re not
going to get any benefit from it an intoxication and this can be uppers
downers anything that is psychoactive if you are messing with that
neurotransmitter balance you’re going to get it out of whack and you may either
use up too much of the excitatory or cause us a lot of it or you may use up
too much of the depressant either way there’s usually a rebound effect which
we call withdrawal so you’re not going to be in a good space either during the
intoxication sometimes but definitely when you’re sobering up
there’s a period where there’s going to be negative emotions negative feelings
environmentally yeah your environment can even make you grumpy
introduction of a new or unique situation some people love new
challenges love going to new places other people not so much depending on
the person taking on going somewhere new may be really stressful for them so if
they’ve already got de-stress going on because of having to go to this new
situation then their thoughts may be a little bit more on the anxious side
about a lot of things and they may have less patience and tolerance to deal with
other stuff that comes their way because they’re already kind of on edge and
exposure to unpress you know going places that you just really don’t want
to go maybe and one of the places I used to work we had this meeting once a month
and it was literally an eight-hour meeting and we would all sit in there
for eight hours and one person at a time would get up and give their staff
reports or whatever but it tended to be a relatively dreadful sort of
environment or eight hours and we all knew we had to be there and that was
fine but it was an unprecedented were grumbling on the way in they were
getting their coffee and going well I better do this because I’m not getting
out for another eight hours we need to help our clients obsess what is it in
your environment if anything that is making you already feel grumpy or not as
happy and likewise what can you put in your environment to make you feel
happier you know I keep pictures of my kids and my animals on my phone that way
if I’m having a moment or not sometimes I just like looking at them I can take a
look at it it makes me smile and I’m like okay life is good you know this
moment may not be so wonderful but it’s just this moment then we move on to
stress of a social nature peers or family who
convey irrational thoughts as necessary standards for social acceptance nobody
wants to associate with those people or nobody’s going to like you when you’re
like this or you read if you really want to be successful then you need to change
fill in the blank it’s always a something needs to change you are not
okay for who you are how you are and a lack of supportive peers to buffer
stress because we all have negative people in our life it happens but if you
have negative supportive peers that you can call afterwards and go yeah I had
just had to meet with someone so for an hour and it was just dreadful and that
person can go well I’m sorry or be there make you laugh or whatever they do it
helps buffer the stress if you don’t have those positive social supports then
you’re left walking out of it you’re kind of feeling shell-shocked and then
you also at the same time have to figure out for yourself all right what do I do
next now it doesn’t mean you can’t do it you
know people do it all the time but it is good it is awesome to have supportive
peers to buffer your stress so when cognitive therapy clients learn to
distinguish between thoughts and feelings realizing that thoughts will
trigger feelings but they don’t have to cause continual feelings and behaviors
and feelings can cause certain thoughts but they don’t have to you can unhook
from them and you can just say this is how I’m feeling right now now where am I
going to go from here and we talked about that on Tuesday with
unhooking from unhooking from your thoughts and stepping back and going
what is the next logical action to get me to where I want to go become aware of
the ways in which the thoughts can influence feelings in ways that are
sometimes not helpful being critical being jealous envious maybe you just
don’t like somebody and you know there’s a whole lot of reasons for that but you
don’t like everybody most people don’t like everyone
and so it’s you know that’s okay but recognize how that affects your
interactions with that person and your thoughts about that person
learn how thoughts that seem to occur automatically affect emotions so
recognize start getting down to what are these core beliefs that happen every
time it’s a negative incident that make me feel angry or anxious constructively
evaluate whether these automatic thoughts and assumptions are accurate or
perhaps biased evaluate whether the current reactions are helpful and a good
use of energy or unhelpful and a waste of energy that could be used to move
toward those people and things important to the person so again back kind of to
that ACP sort of thing is this a good use of your energy to help you achieve
your goals and be the person you want to be and develop the skills to notice
interrupt and correct these biased thoughts independently like I said you
don’t always have to call somebody you can do it on your own but sometimes it’s
nice to have that buffer in that middle moment so what causes these thinking
errors how can we even start helping people address their thoughts and until
we start thinking about well what caused them information processing shortcuts as
we grow up we learn things you know when you were knee-high to a grasshopper you
didn’t have a lot of experience so you learned things but things you learned
when you were a kid unfortunately because you were
cognitively a child are either our dichotomies they’re all or nothing it’s
either this way or no way at all so things that you have things that you
learn back when you were a child may not have been challenged if you heard
something from your parent maybe your parents said you’re a bad girl or you’re
a bad boy it’s all or nothing well I am a bad girl so I guess that
means I’m not okay and if I’m not okay right now I’m never okay that can stick
with a person so these outdated amis schemas can really trip somebody up
once the person gets into you know middle school ish the thoughts aren’t
nearly as dichotomous there’s a lot more formal operational thought if you will
but up until then I mean you’ve got a child who’s experiencing a lot of stuff
and taking in like a sponge everything they hear and it gets sorted into a yes
or a No pile there’s there’s no kind of middle
pile that there’s no yes and so what we want to do is help people look at those
thoughts now and say okay if they’re all or nothing is there a way to find both
and so for example we’ll take that exam scenario I gave you earlier if a child
hears you’re a bad girl when they’re young they take that to mean always
everything about me is bad I’m unlovable so what is the both and compromise as an
adult we can look back and go you know I’m a good person I may not make may
make poor choices sometimes I may make bad choices but I’m a good person
so there’s that both and you know I’m not perfect but I’m good so that it’s
not all or nothing and I encourage my clients to really always look for that
middle ground how can it be both or does it have to even be that negative one but
most of the time there’s a little bit of something on both sides the brain’s
limited information processing capacity and limited responses when children are
young you know they hear something you know mom comes in and says you’re a bad
girl and child hears I’m totally unlovable and it just crushes the child
they don’t have experiences to go moms having a bad day she kind of tends to
say things she doesn’t mean when she’s having a bad day it’s just it’s
devastating to that child when you’re older if somebody says something that’s
not necessarily tactful you know you can look at it and go yeah that really
wasn’t nice but that person probably did not intend to be hurtful they may have
something else going on children have fewer experiences so what
was devastating or overwhelming as a child may not still have have to feel
that way when you’re a child if your best friend moved away oh that was
devastating it was the end of the world now as an adult you can go visit them
you can call them and with the internet and everything you can email them you
can still stay in touch so there are ways to do it yeah you can’t go out and
swing swing on swings together all the time but it doesn’t have to mean the end
of the end of time things will change and there’s a little process of grieving
that has to go along with that but to an adult a friend moving away is less
devastating than say to a six-year-old your parent being angry with you if you
grew up in an alcoholic or addicted household you learn don’t talk don’t
trust don’t feel when the parent came in if the parent was angry with you you
could have been in a lot of hurt you know there could have been some actual
danger to your physical or emotional person so it was scary as a 26 year old
or however old your client is is it that threatening you know if your parent gets
angry with you you don’t depend on them for food and shelter anymore you don’t
have to be an inner household if they were violent towards you so is it as
terrifying when your parent gets angry yes there’s lots of issues with wanting
acceptance from your parents that’s over here there’s a whole nother issue but
when your parent is angry do you have to have that person’s approval when we’re
in crisis we don’t process much when you’re in crisis your body is worried
about surviving if you’ve been in a car wreck if somebody has gone to the
hospital whatever the case is you’re not
processing all of the data in order to make it in for
decision you’re processing what’s right in front of you because when we’re in
crisis we generally have tunnel vision and really crappy memory so if something
happened when someone was in crisis that hurt their feelings made them angry you
know fill in the blank some sort of dysphoric emotion we want to say well
let’s look back at that and see if there’s a pose and let’s look back at
that and see if there was something that you missed that might help you
understand why this person reacted that way but understanding that in crisis we
just generally don’t make the most informed decisions so emotional
reasoning helping clients understand that feeling or not facts and helping
them learn to identify feelings and separate them from facts so if they say
I’m terrified all right so you’re terrified got that about what are you
terrified you know tell me what are these things that make you feel like the
world is such a scary place and let’s list them on the whiteboard or a flip
chart what is the evidence that those are present dangers right now that
they’re actually impending threats so tell me about what the evidence is in
what ways is this similar to other situations where you felt terrified and
how did you deal with those situations I have a friend who actually went this
morning on an airplane flight and she hates flying totally terrified of it so
what is the evidence that this plane is going to crash you know what is the
evidence that it is likely that this plane will crash and there really she’s
flying on an american-based commercial airliner there really isn’t any when you
look at the proportions so okay there’s there have been a couple of crashes over
the past 20 years and in a couple of those there were some fatalities no
doubt but looking at the proportions and running the numbers
what’s the likelihood in what ways this is similar to other situations that you
have felt terrified you know maybe there haven’t been any other situations where
she’s flown and gotten through it and been like score I did that but what
other situations have you had to get through that you were terrified and how
did you deal with those help people develop distress tolerance skills one of
the things I told her was when you’re sitting on the airplane and you know the
airplane starts up don’t wait til you start getting really stressed
necessarily but when we were little on the car when we’re in the car we used to
find things on the drive find something that starts with a and everybody would
find something that started with a and then find something that starts with B
and you know so on and if you couldn’t find something that started with that
letter you were out so I mean she’s going on this trip with her kids and I’m
like why don’t you try doing that because there are some letters that
you’re going to have to work really hard and it’s kind of like the game apples to
apples you end up finding something really inane in order to get that letter
and you laugh and you’re so busy focusing on that you’re not focusing on
all of the things that could possibly maybe go wrong other distress tolerance
skills you know you can go through the whole DBT curriculum and learn some of
those the biggest thing is if you have to face the terror if you have to go
through it figure out a way to not have to focus on it and fight it and go I
shouldn’t be afraid I shouldn’t be because that doesn’t work if it worked
we wouldn’t be talking about it and develop emotional regulation skills so
prevent those vulnerabilities set yourself up so you are as prepared as
you can to not feel stressed to not feel anxious she has her spouse with her who
can help diffuse some of it she’s got her kids with her she downloaded some
movies she’s prepared to endure the distress she’s you know trying to go
into it with a positive mindset as much as
possible and focusing on the destination which you know is ultimately the reason
she’s getting on the plane social causes of stress and thinking errors
everybody’s doing it well that’s not true there’s very real that everybody
does so correcting misinformation how the client gather objective information
about you know if they say well everybody else that I know has succeeded
okay well let’s gather objective information about that who do you know
and tell me if they’ve succeeded if I want to be liked I must do it
this need for approval or low self-esteem can cause a lot of problems
in thinking errors and fears of rejection so we say okay let’s look at
developing some self-esteem so you don’t need to worry about if somebody likes
you what would it be like if you woke up in the morning and you didn’t care if
so-and-so liked you I mean we all want to have friends don’t get me wrong I’m
not saying you want to be her moving out in the woods but if we’re talking about
a particular so-and-so what would it be like in the morning to get up and go you
know what if that person messages me today or call us me today that’s great
and if not I’m okay with that how liberating would that be to get your
power back and how people develop social supports that share their same values
and goals at least mostly or at least can respect yours so for example when
you know I work with people with co-occurring disorders and they don’t
drink and they don’t use drugs so they may be around people family friends who
drink if you’re going to be in that situation do you have to drink and can
you be around do you have social supports that can be supportive of your
choice to not drink doesn’t necessarily mean they’re it’s not going to not going
to not drink in front of you but at least they’re not trying to get you to
drink so the social causes of irrational
thoughts if I want to be liked I must do this
why can’t you be like for who you are cognitive bias negativity mental filter
focus on the negatives and worry about the future most of us know some people
like that most of us have had a moment where we felt like this we’ve just
gotten ourselves in a tizzy and spun out of control but you can bring it back so
you want to ask yourself or have your clients ask themselves what’s the
benefit to focusing on the negative if you know that this is going to go south
really fast what’s the benefit to just focusing on
that could you focus on alternatives or Plan B’s what are the positives to the
situation most people who have mood issues who present to us in counseling
don’t focus on both sides yes every side you know has a little bit of negative to
it if you really want to look hard enough but every side also has a silver
lining if you really want to look hard enough so we need to balance the the
positives and the negatives so encourage people to look for the positives in the
situation yeah this really sucked but and what are all the facts what are all
the things going into it sometimes people will go to work and not know or
wonder if they’re going to get laid off because you know you’re not necessarily
always guaranteed a job anywhere there can be layoffs but if somebody is going
to work every day worried about this focusing on the negative up yep I’m
definitely going to be the one that’s going to get the pink slip and they go
to their mailbox each time looking for that pink slip expecting it to be there
how is that going to affect their mood as opposed to alright there may be
layoffs coming what can I do to make myself really valuable or and what are
my options if I do get laid off let’s make a plan B and C so I don’t just feel
like the rug was pulled out from under me coin toss activity if
somebody tends to be stuck in negativity have them flip a coin every morning if
it lands on heads they can just see their normal selves to their heart’s
content if it lands on tails they need to act as if they are a happy positive
optimistic maybe even a noxious ly optimistic person for the entire day you
know we want them to be farting rainbows and when I say that they usually look at
me and laugh and but that’s okay I’m like every time you start having a
negative thought I want you to see a unicorn farting rainbows and take it
from there and then have them process how they felt at the end of the day if
they weren’t constantly focused on negativity and worrying and only seeing
the bad stuff disqualifying or minimizing the positive if something
happens when somebody says well I just got that promotion because they didn’t
have anybody else to give it to okay if your best friend just got a promotion
would you say that to them what is scary about accepting the positive about
accepting the fact that maybe you got the promotion because you’re awesome
sometimes we disqualify the positive because it fails to meet someone else’s
standards so might that be true here you know maybe you got this promotion and
you’re actually down deep down inside kind of proud of it but you know that
your mother had always wanted you to be this over here and you’re never going to
meet that expectation so you minimize it that way nobody else could say well you
know better than nothing and take away your thunder egocentrism my perspective
is the only perspective take different perspectives I always say three if
something happens and you know maybe somebody was rude to you
anyone they were rude to me okay they were rude to you what are three reasons
what are some alternate perspectives why that person might have been rude maybe
what you did something that triggers them maybe they were
having a bad day and it’s got nothing at all to do with you you know there are
options that we can look at personalization and mind-reading what
are some alternate explanations for the event that didn’t involve you if you
think well that person that person just really doesn’t like me and you know I’ve
got to work with them every day and they hate me my question to my client would
be what what’s the evidence for that and what are some alternative explanations
for why that person may be behaving that way
I had a staff member that a lot of my other staff members had difficulty
getting along with and ultimately you know we had to sit down and look when I
had some different staff meetings with people and say you know what gives you
the idea that she doesn’t like you what gives you the idea that it’s about you
and you know they cited all kinds of behaviors and I had to come back to well
what are some alternate reasons why somebody anybody not just her might be
expressing those behaviors could it be something besides you and of course they
came back – yeah availability heuristic remembering what’s prominent in your
mind if somebody was if you’re a supervisor for example and you’re doing
evaluation for the year what are you really remembering when you’re doing
that evaluation the whole year or the last three months and that’s the event
fail ability heuristic so when you’re talking to somebody about their
relationship with their best friend or their spouse or their kids and if
somebody says well that that child has always been a problem okay let’s look at
that you know the child is 18 and you’ve had a lot of problems with him lately
but what about three years ago so was he always a problem or is this something
that’s relatively new that something might have changed
magnification people getting stuck on fearing the absolute worst so you want
to ask them is this a high probability or low probability outcome if they’re
magnifying something that happened like oh my gosh that is the worst thing in
the world is this going to matter six months from now maybe you totaled your
car and yeah that is a huge bummer and you’re safe in six months is this really
going to matter that much you know there are going to be some bills and
everything but the big scheme of things is at the end of the world what have you
done in the past to tolerate events like these when something really really
unpleasant has happened and then if they’re looking at dichotomous ways of
thinking which a lot of our clients still do they’re like someone so it
always does this or never does this have them look at the differences between
love versus hate perfection versus failure and all good intentions versus
all bad intentions because a lot of our dichotomies fall in one of these three
categories this person always does this or Never
or does it intentionally or you know just doesn’t care belief in a just world
the fallacy of fairness encourage people to look for for good people they know
that have had bad things happen attributional bearers are labeling
yourself not a behavior such as saying I am stupid instead of I don’t have good
math skills I am is difficult to get rid of I can’t get rid of stupidity if it’s
part of me but if it’s a thought or a skill I can either get rid of it or
improve it stable I am means I am right now and I probably always will be stupid
verses I can change this thought or skill I can learn math and internal
attributions mean it’s about me as a person versus about a
skill or skill deficit or something completely unrelated so when somebody
makes a global internal negative statement we want to help them challenge
that global internal positive statements I’m all about but the negative ones I
want to say let’s take a look at that is that true that this is about you all of
the time and it means that there’s something wrong with you so we want to
ask them how are these thoughts how are these ways of thinking impacting your
emotions health relationships and perceptions of the world we want to
increase motivation to start looking at these spanking errors because it’s a lot
of work to start changing the way you automatically think because you’ve got
to stop you’ve got to become mindful and then you’ve got to decide well what are
the alternative thoughts because this is what I thought for so long how may have
this thought has been helpful in the past most of the time thoughts we have
came from somewhere and whether it was a thought we had when we were a child
something we learned when we were a child that is dichotomous and not quite
applicable anymore it may have been helpful in the past to help you navigate
situations doesn’t mean it was wrong it means it’s not helpful in the present
asking them to always ask themselves is this thought or feeling bringing you the
client closer to those people and things that are important to you it’s hanging
on to this negativity bringing you closer and and I like the energy
philosophy if you will when you are unhappy you are letting this person have
your power you are letting this person make you angry when you decide you are
not going to give them your power then you may start feeling happier and I
don’t always use that with clients but sometimes the power metaphor help
when we talk about thinking Ayers asked them are there examples of this not
being true and and or how can a statement be made less global stable and
internal is it about you or is it about what you do at work is it about you or
is it about your relationship with this particular person so the last couple of
slides focusing on some of the irrational thoughts or unhelpful beliefs
our basic fears are rejection and isolation failure loss of control the
unknown and death generally the things that cause people to have this
fight-or-flight reaction fall into one of those categories so some of the
unhelpful beliefs that we hear a lot coming up when we do the ABCs is that
mistakes are never acceptable so if I make one
I am incompetent so we’ve got dichotomous thinking and we’ve got a lot
of internal global labeling here rejection and isolation when somebody
disagrees with me it’s a personal attack against me well sometimes it is what
does that mean it’s about you we’re helping them address the rejection and
isolation fears we want to ask them you know if they disagree with you were they
attacking you and saying you were stupid or were they attack attacking you want
to use that word or were they attacking the thought and saying they disagreed
with the thought there’s a little bit of a difference it’s somewhat semantics but
it’s a difference because they may have a lot of respect for you but they may
disagree with what you just said if someone criticizes or rejects me there
must be something wrong with me again that’s one of those internal global
negative statements to feel good about myself others must approve of me we want
to make sure our clients can self validate and they don’t rely on external
validation because they’re setting themselves up for a world of hurt if
they are not their own best friend to be content in
life I must be liked by all people and thanks for a second are you liked by
everybody I know I’m not liked by everybody so does that mean that I
should not be content in life and what does it say to give people that power to
say if you don’t like me that I can’t be content because I’ve got to be liked by
everybody sometimes with clients I’ll help them look at what may be going on
with the other person why that person might like them because a lot of times
other people’s reactions towards you are more about their stuff than about you
and helping them see how that might be true my true value as an individual
depends on what others think of me so these other unhelpful beliefs pertain to
those thoughts of failure and loss of control none of us likes to fail don’t
get me wrong it’s not pleasant but it happens and there is a saying out there
that says if you haven’t failed you haven’t tried which means we need to get
beyond our safety envelope we need to push ourselves behind beyond our
boundaries and when we do sometimes we’re going to stumble and fall and we
pick ourselves up and we learn from it but to expect to never fail at anything
is not realistic so nothing ever turns out the way you want it to how many
times have you heard that from your clients I won’t try anything new unless
I know I’ll be good at it I’m in total control and anything bad that happens is
my fault so let’s look at this locus let’s control thing here you’re in total
control so you can make it rain you know it was unpleasant today because I had to
come to work and it was raining outside so that was bad it happened was it your
fault pointing out and depending on your relationship for your client you’re
probably going to be more or less snarky when you present some of these but a lot
of times I have a semi joking relationship if you will with my clients
and they’re like yeah I see your point that kind of didn’t make a lot of
since other times you know if they’re more serious I’ll ask them to identify
things that happened that were bad that they had nothing to do with if I feel
happy about life something will go wrong or I’m always waiting for the other shoe
to drop helping people stay focused in the moment with mindfulness and
something’s going to go wrong down the road somewhere sometimes yeah it’s true
this will happen let’s enjoy what we’ve got for right now the past always
repeats itself it was if it was true then it’s true now so what was true when
you were ten is true now that you’re forty always is that true it’s not my
fault my life didn’t go the way I wanted everybody conspired against me and
there’s no gray area so for people who feel the need to hold on to control its
dichotomous it is or it isn’t it’s got to be that way there’s no gray area and
it can make life be seem very uncomfortable because they’ve got to put
things in one of two buckets and sometimes things don’t fit nicely in
buckets what happens if we add a third bucket that both an bucket so a quick
note about irrationality the origins of most beliefs were rational and helpful
given the information the person had at the time and their ability to process
that information because of their cognitive development so things that we
identify as unhelpful or automatic beliefs now came from somewhere and they
made perfect sense whenever they were formed they may not be healthy or
helpful now which is why we want to look at them and either adjust them or just
throw them out the door but when they were formed they were on point
irrationality or unhelpful nasaw thoughts comes when those beliefs are
perpetuated without examination so again we need to look at them continually look
at what you’re telling yourself and go is this still accurate
and continue to be held despite causing harm to the person sometimes you’re
going to look at a thought an automatic thought and you’re going to go yeah that
is still spot-on now is holding on to this helping me
achieve my goals you know yet the world right now is kind of a scary place is
holding on to this fear and terror helping me and be a happy productive
yada-yada whatever kind of person you want to be or is it causing me to feel
anxious and angry and scared sometimes it’s more productive for clients to
think of thoughts as unhelpful instead of irrational because like I said I feel
like irrationality and distortions seem very pejorative to a lot of clients so
questions clients can ask themselves when they are faced with a situation
what are the facts for and against this belief is this belief based on facts or
feelings just because you feel scared is it a scary situation does the belief
focus on just one aspect or the whole situation does the belief seem to use
any of those thinking errors we talked about and if so you know what do I need
to do about it what are some alternate explanations for this belief what else
could have caused this to happen besides whatever I’m afraid of what would you
tell your child or your best friend if they had this belief
what would you took what would you want someone to tell you about this belief
you could have somebody tell you something that would make you feel okay
what would you want them to tell you and how is this belief moving you toward
what and who is important to you remembering that beliefs are a
combination of thought and fact and personal interpretation of those
thoughts and facts I tend to when I talk you know you see me I kind of I’m all
over the place with my arms I am a animated talker now if you are seeing me
from a hundred feet away and you are seeing me talk
might think I was angry because I make a lot of really big gestures because if
you had grown up in a situation where there was domestic violence or something
but if you had grown up in a household like I did where you had a first
generation Italian first generations of ten Italian Americans talk big they talk
real big with lots of gestures and sometimes loud and that doesn’t
necessarily mean any anger a lot of times it’s just pure excitement so
understanding that there’s thoughts in facts you know you see this going on but
your personal interpretation can really affect what you get out of it or what
you perceive that situation to be so we need to look at how is your personal
interpretation maybe adding a negative bias and what what do we do about that
it may be 100 percent accurate what do we do about it so it doesn’t keep you
miserable thoughts impact behaviors and emotional and physical reactions
emotional physical reactions impact thoughts and your interpretation of
events irrational or unhelpful thinking patterns are often caused by cognitive
distortions my two favorite words in that same sentence cognitive distortions
are schemas or shortcut ideas or memories if you will which were formed
based on faulty inaccurate or immature knowledge or understanding of the event
you know little kids may not have quite understood what was going on they just
understood that mommy and daddy were screaming identifying the thoughts the
hecklers I call them those negative voices inside your head that are
maintaining unhappiness helps people choose whether to accept the thoughts
and say yeah you know that’s right I really am not good at that or whatever
the negative thought is and change it or let the thought go are there any
questions you you thank you miss Benson well thank you all
if you come up with any questions you know you’re mulling it over later and
you think you know that yet I’ve worked with a client and with something similar
and I did this or you know you have a question about something I said feel
free to email me the easiest one to remember is support at all CEUs com
there’s only two others in the office so either my husband gets it err I do so
it’ll get to me and I guess that’s it so I will see you all on Tuesday if you
have any types of courses that you want to see added to the list please let me
know I’m always interested in doing what you want to learn about not necessarily
just where I pull out on my rabbit hat yes you can print the slides in the
golly golly golly when you go into the class there’s a link that has a PDF of
the slides that you can print if you want to print go ahead and print those
out the video version of this will be up on YouTube by tomorrow morning maybe
later this afternoon you okay everybody have an absolutely
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