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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: What Is It and How Can It Benefit Me?

Updated on September 19, 2013

I've taken courses on CBT and it's very helpful to identify thought processes! Recently I was going over Cognitive Behaviour Therapy worksheets,and I came across a type of therapy called thought chains. It is extremely useful in discovering how we came to a state of total disarray or anger, for example, thinking someone stole something for example could lead to anger, to asking if someone took it, not believing them, getting more paranoid, getting more angry and thinking everyone is against you, leading to possible self harm or harming others (for example.) To be able to stop these thoughts by practicing a skill of keeping track of where your thoughts are going, is essential to recovery.

Again, thought chains are a beginning occurence or happening which leads to one thing and then another and snowballs into a disastrous situation which could be anger, or severe depression, paranoia, self harm, suicidal thoughts, homocidal thoughts. This type of therapy can be used for those prone to anger- anger management, prone to anxiety, prone to depression, prone to crisis situations like suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting others. When we see how something small and typically insignificant can lead to something disastrous, it makes us realize how silly this is, it's called Distorted Thinking, and we can learn by practicing, of keeping a record of these feelings and how they lead to another and another. We can also go through the end result, possibly being extremely angry and go back the steps to see where it all came from, for example something being missing.

This is a unique coping skill which can change your life and the way you think.

Example One: I spilled coffee on myself

1) I spilled coffee on myself

2) I am angry at myself

3) I am judging myself and it's leading to low self esteem

4) I tell myself I am stupid

5) This spirals into a depressed state which comes easily since I'm prone to being depressed

6) I feel worse and worse and dwell on the depression

7) End result: I'm calling crisis and thinking of hurting myself.

How can hurting myself result from spilling coffee?? This is just a possible example, not something that happened to me, but some sort of situation that can be explained.

I must go backwards, after taking all these notes:

  • couldn't I have stopped myself after #1 and said to myself " Don't cry over spilt milk. It's no biggie."
  • ´╗┐Being angry at myself , #2, couldn't I stop there and see how foolish I'm being?
  • #3, low self esteem......why would I feel this way? Am I that low on my self esteem?
  • #4 telling myself I am stupid. Am I really that mean to myself? Reality Check!
  • #5 Depressed state. Stop!
  • #6 out of control with depression
  • #7 CRISIS???? Over what???!!!!!!

So you see how recording the feelings and emotions can help us to understand how silly we were being and how we should practice stopping this thought chain.

  • What worked?
  • How did I stop this thought chain?
  • How many steps did I go through before it ended?
  • I must practice and practice to avoid this distorted thinking!

Working on a thought chain

MAKE A LIST OF SPECIFIC BEHAVIORS AND EVENTS....then List New and More Skillful Behaviours to Replace Ineffective Behaviors.

Number your paper from 1-14















As you go through each number, write down the thoughts and events which lead to each following thought or event. Think of your Actions, Body Sensations, Thoughts, What Happens (Events), and Feelings.

For example:

1) My cell phone is missing

2) I think someone took it

3) I begin to worry

4) I feel upset

5) I'm getting angry

6) I'm getting anxious

7) I start thinking my roommate took it

8) I start thinking she's playing games with me

9) I wonder if she always plays games with me

10) I get scared and think she's out to get me

11) I'm feeling more and more scared

12) My face heats up and I'm angry

13) I don't know what to do

14) I'm in a full fledged panic attack

I don't know if this is the best example, above. It's just an example I thought up. But the point is to look at each number, and see "How could I have stopped this thought chain?" How could I have nipped it in the bud? If I DID nip it in the bud, what was the coping skill I used, and let me remind myself to use that coping skill in the future.!!!´╗┐

I wrote this article in 1/2 hour for a hub challenge. Did you find it useful? Did it make sense? Should I fix it? leave a comment below! thanks!

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    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      12 months ago

      Hi Mona,

      Thank you for coming by again.

      I bought a big textbook of CBT recently to do more research/education at home. It is very useful. One friend told me he got off his meds, and used cbt to overcome hearing voices!

      Thank you so much for your compliments/comments

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      12 months ago from Philippines

      This is the first time I finally learned what cognitive behavioral therapy is all about. The mental chain link is very helpful. Great article:).

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      21 months ago

      Who Loves Lottie,

      If you're still around,

      I finally after all these years, bought the book you recommended. I just ordered it. And I'm looking into seeing/ making an appt with Eric Braverman.

      It took this long because I was on mind numbing meds before and couldn't function.

      I'm now on meds which work. But I want to find out if it's possible to get natural treatment. My meds make me put on a lot of weight.

      I would love to hear from you again!

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      21 months ago


      Thank you for visiting this hub. I needed to read this again.

      I'm looking into more natural methods, because my meds cause weight gain.

      Thanks for your comment! I believe we need to not focus on the negative and pray away negative thoughts, and not dwell on them. We have a choice!

      But I agree wholeheartedly with Who Loves Lottie, from experience that meds- some can paralyze us and keep us in a numb state of mind and we are more susceptible to our initial thought going down the wrong road.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      21 months ago from Houston, Texas

      It is good to be self aware and be armed with the knowledge of how to redirect negative thoughts or energy into positive ones.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Who Loves Lottie,

      I understand you more than ever now. Since I've been off Lithium (I"m only 3 meds now, used to be 5) I am no longer angry and my learning abilities have increased greatly. I'll be looking up Eric Braverman and "Edge Effect".

      Ps. Lottie. LOL! Did you know I was in (respite) for 5 days to rest and get away, and I had shared this hub with staff, and it popped up in a group that they used my page!!!!!

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thankyou :)

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      SGFR, I didn't so much mention your photo because of the real-photo-versus-scenery thing. Not that anyone asked for my opinion, but I just thought your most recent photo of yourself was a nice photo of you and thought offering positive feedback on it might be a good idea. :)

    • Who Loves Lottie profile image

      Who Loves Lottie 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

      I might also add how I got roped into the psych drug world. I sought out counseling when my marriage was failing. Soon into it I was sold to the fact that I don't even know when I am angry. I was pretty laid back. So they helped me find my anger! They started me on meds and now I also have anxiety! Well, obviously I need to be medicated for these things. It just snowballed! I sought counseling because my husband was depressed and it was effecting our marriage! I really didn't think I had a problem. But what do I know after all, they are the professionals! I ended up divorced and later developed and eating disorder. While on meds I attempted suicide. I was diagnosed with so many different psychiatric disorders through the years! Even DID (Disassociative Identity Disorder).

      Oh if I had it to do all over again! I recently was having some problems and saw a neurologist. Possible mini stroke. They did a bunch of tests and bottom line is I got a clean bill of mental health. I wanted that to be part of my record! Yes, I am sane! There was no way they would ever get their hands on my mind again!!!

      When we suffer through a crisis what we feel is normal! We must allow ourselves to get through difficult times. Feel what needs to be felt. We do not have a chemical imbalance! We start taking psychiatric drugs for long periods of time and guess what! We now have a chemical imbalance!

      Don't get me wrong. I do believe there is a place for some of these meds. People who do recreational drugs can cause themselves a chemical imbalance and may have need of these things. Or alcoholics. Even people with eating disorders can cause a chemical imbalance. Normal life situations need to be dealt with. Grief needs to be felt not numbed with drugs.

      I have been away from psych drugs for 10 years. I love the Lord and live my life to serve Him! I am also thankful for my husband who was such a big support in opening my eyes to the reality of "I'm okay"! Jesus knows me far better than I know myself.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Who Loves Lottie,

      Wise points, we must make what works for us and I believe in God very much, and that since He created me and made me the way I am- it's His will if I get better or not! Fortunately for me, I AM GETTING BETTER!!!! but we need to educate ourselves and your point on taking vitamins and all of what you said is very important. thankyou very much for commenting again! You may find my other acct schoolgirlforreal interesting, if you like this topic.

    • Who Loves Lottie profile image

      Who Loves Lottie 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania


      First off I want to say that I came to realize that we are an entire package deal! I feel that we give too much weight to our emotions. Just because we feel something doesn't make it so. I like to look at my life from many angles. One is spiritual. For me...God created this body and He knows far more about me than I do. I talk to Him about my emotions then I let them alone. I try not to entertain emotions. I only use them to monitor where I am. Second, we have our bodies and our minds. When I was in counseling they always wanted to take me into my past. Wrong! That was the very thing I wanted to get away from. I am who I am because of my journey. I use where I have been to lay out my future because I have far more control over what lay ahead than what has fallen behind.

      If you have never heard of Eric Braverman I would suggest you look him up on the internet. He starts with brain chemistry and feels if your brain chemistry is balanced then the rest of your body will also be balanced. His website is I purchase one of his books titled The Edge Effect. Good reading!! You don't have to read it the whole way through. Just start reading it and you will start to understand the parts that you need. There is a psych test (so to speak) that breaks down your brain into four hormones. You have a dominant hormone but when one of these hormones is way off you will have symptoms. He gives suggestions of food items to eat to boost levels. He also suggests some psych drugs but says if you use these they should only be taken for like 2 weeks. If you continue on with them you could put one of the other hormones out of whack.

      I also use B-Complex 100. If I have a supper stressed time in my life and I feel it taking its toll I start taking that. It brings me around in a few days. The only vitamins I take every day are 2 fish oil, turmeric for inflamation and a good mutlivitamin. What I started with was looking up my symptoms and found the vitamin that would help. I might go through a bottle or two. Then no longer have a need for it. It is important to eat properly and try to avoid sugar and artificial stuff also.

      Just remember, we are all different. We must find our own way. What works for me may not work for you. Keep are already on the right track! Find a church to get involved with. I also find it helpful to look for ways to serve others instead of putting so much attention on myself.

      Good luck to you and God Bless!!

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Who Loves Lottie,

      You raise a very good, important, and very valid point. How did you get off of them? I completely agree that they, meds, cause suicidal behaviour, after all cimblata for one states in it their very commercail :(

      I would love to hear more about your success story, as that is what I'm looking to do myself, hopefully.

      thankyou very much for coming by and commenting.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi LisaHW,

      Thankyou for the comment:) And yes, I misplaced the picture, but I hope this current one is satisfactory? :) Thankyou , I know most people appreciate a real photo than a scenic one. :)

    • schoolgirlforreal profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago


      Yes, you are correct. This type of therapy takes 6 weeks to fulfill properly. It will take a willing person who is on good medication, or in the right frame of mind, to do it. But it would be invaluable for them to learn it, but they can start off with basic DBT/CBT skills in the workbook pictured at the above right. This workbook is used in all the DBT/CBT classes and has been proven very effective.

    • Who Loves Lottie profile image

      Who Loves Lottie 

      6 years ago from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

      I have found that when you are on some psych medications it begins so subtle. It is calm, you don't feel agitated, then down the road somewhere you come to realize you have no will to live. You begin looking for reasons to take your life. Because you didn't feel it immediately you don't expect the drug. It is not until the drug is removed that you realize it was the very cause of you feeling this way. Doctors kept me sedated in one way or another for several years. It wasn't until I met someone that was against psychiatric medication and coaxed me to get off of them. I was scared to stop them and really felt that I needed them. Years down the road after pursuing my health from a different angle I now feel mentally strong and healthier than I have ever felt in my life!!! Yes I continually look at my thinking process as evaluation but while I was on the medications I didn't have a chance!

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      schoolgirlforreal, I think you've done a nice job of pointing out the process for some people. Your 30-minute Hub could be helpful to people who tend to let one kind of thought go to another, but also to people who might want to better understand (if they, themselves, don't tend to do the same kind of thing).

      (By the way, where's that nice picture of yourself that you've had up, I think, most recently.. I thought that was a nice one - not that you asked for my thoughts on the matter :) ).

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      From what I am understanding of your explanation of thought chains, a large part of the benefit could also come from seeing how an initial rational thought mushrooms into an irrational conclusion based on thinking errors in the chain. It sounds like a useful tool if the affected person will take the time to work the chain.


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