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