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Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

“What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you”

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is a psychosocial intervention that aims to improve mental health.
CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors,
improving emotional regulation and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems.

The best CBT Interventions are Based on Good Information Collection.

Information can be collected during the time of an assessment or as therapy progresses. Additional valuable information can also be collected through the use of diaries. Diaries can be thought of as an inconvenience by some people completing CBT, and in practice it can be quite difficult to encourage people to fill them in on a regular basis. It is therefore important to educate folk about the importance of diary completion before handing out diaries to them.

Luckily there are some good selling points that you can use to encourage diary completion. Diaries have multiple uses. They can assist individuals to a) observe themselves in a non-judgemental way and b) bring problems to therapy that they might otherwise forget to mention. Diaries also discourage the practice of 'screening out' or 'filtering out' relevant information through processes such as cognitive dissonance and selective attention.

A further hidden benefit of diaries is that they assist the practice of self-observation.
Self-observation in written form results in greater use of the pre- frontal cortex, which can become seriously compromised in people with mental health problems, (Frodl et al, 2008).

Increased self-observation through the use of diaries also expands working memory capacity, which is beneficial to individuals who are experiencing executive difficulties as a result of anxiety and/or depression.

Thought, Feeling, Physiology and Behaviour Diaries

The most common diaries handed out in CBT are thought, feeling, physiology, and behaviour diaries. A particularly difficult concept for some people, which will need to be identified before completion of this diary is the notion that feelings are in the body and not the head. Diaries will encourage the use of regular body scanning. This will be beneficial as it, a) evokes greater sensory awareness and b) encourages increased experiential processing.

We define physiological reactions as specific sensations that occur in our bodies.
Specific body changes that people may notice when they are psychologically upset include increased tension, jaw tightening, a tight chest, a pounding head, heart racing, heavy feelings in the legs, pain in the chest, stomach churning and such like.

We define emotions as a way of labelling and giving meaning to specific bodily changes. Many physiological reactions connected to emotions are very similar: for example, the physiological changes associated with anxiety and anger both involve a) heart rate increase, b) a rise in blood pressure, and c) tension in major muscle groups. However, similar bodily reactions can be perceived or interpreted very differently, and trigger different consequential behaviours. Therefore, we attach importance to the labelling of emotions. Labelling emotions assists people to notice what they are feeling, where the feeling is located, and to recognise that what is happening to them is 'just a feeling'. 

Ten Quotes That Sum Up Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) Perfectly

  1. “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them” - Albert Ellis, the founding father of the first form of CBT, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), turned to the Stoic Philosophers when developing it. This quote forms the foundations of REBT and comes courtesy of the Ancient Greek philosopher, Epictetus.
  2. “For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” - You can thank Shakespeare for this one (Hamlet: Act II, Scene II, if you must know). No matter how good (or bad) things are, you can always make them better or worse by what you tell yourself. Basically, it’s all about perspective.
  3. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” - Anna Eleanor Roosevelt: politician, diplomat, activist, First Lady of the United States, better half of the 32nd President of America (Franklin D. Roosevelt) and very wise person indeed. People will say what they will about you. Only you decide whether their comment hits home or not.
  4. “What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you” - Back to the Stoics with this one. Lucius Annaeus Seneca: statesmen, dramatist and advisor to the Emperor Nero. You have every right to be you: crazy, wonderful you. Celebrate yourself – warts and all!
  5. “No! Try not! Do, or do not. There is no try” - That aged Jedi Master Yoda, a therapist he was. This original trilogy quote (The Empire Strikes Back) applies to everything, including homework (which is an essential part of CBT) and parties. Seriously: you’re throwing a shindig on Friday, you call your bestie to check they’re coming and they say they’ll “try to make it.” Would you expect them or not?
  6. “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem” - Oh, Captain Jack Sparrow, you pirate, plunderer and accidental psychotherapist you. My, but how you hit the nail on the head with this one. Your problems will change when you change the way you look at them.
  7. “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now” - Edna Mode, the superhero fashion designer and all-round auteur kept herself calm with this one. When you focus too much on the past (which can’t be changed) or too much on the future (which hasn’t happened yet), you forget to enjoy the here and now. CBT and mindfulness both teach you to focus on the now and to become happier in the process.
  8. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better” - This one belongs to the American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Every time you do something, you learn something, and that includes your mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make them and don’t let your mistakes define you.
  9. “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny” - Over the years, this has been ascribed to Buddha, the Ancient Chinese poet and philosopher Lao Tzu, Ralph Waldo Emerson and, even, Margaret Thatcher’s dad! Whomsoever said it first; it describes beautifully just where a thought can lead; which leads me to my last quote, which kind of echoes the first.
  10. “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts” - I started with the Stoics and I shall finish with the Stoics. This time it’s the turn of former Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who did his best to choose the good ones.

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