Cognitive behaviour therapy and how it can help with anxiety
The CBT model is based on the fact that our thoughts cause our feelings, behaviours and actions. Therefore, if our thoughts are positive, we have happy feelings and behaviours. On the other hand, if our thoughts are negative and constantly 'loop around our head’, our thoughts, feelings and actions will also be negative. These negative feelings may make us feel sad, anxious and overwhelmed. I'm sure you can name many more emotions!
The CBT process can help us feel in control and calm when facing difficult situations. Part of the process is to explore our unhelpful thinking styles. These thinking styles may include the following:
Jumping to conclusions
Thinking we know what other people are thinking and/or predicting what might happen. There may be no definite facts that convincingly support that way of thinking.
All or nothing thinking
If your performance is not perfect every time, you see yourself as a total failure.
Everything is always rubbish or nothing good ever happens to you. You see a single negative event as a never ending pattern of defeat throughout life.
'I should/must/ought to be able to achieve’’. The emotional consequence of this way of thinking is guilt, which may then filter into anger, frustration and resentment.
You make a decision that in order to accept yourself as worthy, or simply to feel good about yourself, you have to perform in a certain way (usually most or all of the time).
Do you recognise any of the above in your way of thinking?
By using thought records we can analyse why we think a certain way:
- What were you doing at the time?
- What emotions were you feeling?
- Why are you feeling that way?
- What memories or past experiences affect this thought?
- What supports the truth in the thought?
- Are there instances which contradict the thought?
- Finally, changing the thought into a positive one which takes into account the answers to the above questions.
By recognising the triggers using thought logs, journals, laddering, thought controlling, goal setting and relaxation/visualisation techniques, we can learn to make a positive change in the way you think and feel.
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About Heather Shipley
Heather Shipley is a CBT and Emotional Therapeutic Counsellor (DipFETC MNCS MFETC). Her style of counselling is person-centred and includes talking and creative therapies for children, adolescents and adults. For further details: www.hshipleytherapy.co.uk.