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Brief Introduction to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
The basic idea of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is that your thinking determines your mood, and if you change your thinking, you will change behaviour, indeed, your life! The most common types of negative thinking are all-or-nothing thinking and disqualifying all the positive thoughts. If you usually think that things have to be perfect and anything less than perfect is a failure, you're setting yourself up for trouble. If you focus on the few negatives in your life and disqualify the many positives, you're more prone to anxiety, depression, and addiction, (anything from smoking cigarettes, to highly addictive class A drugs). Cognitive behavioural therapy helps you identify your negative thinking and replace it with healthier thinking.
One of the basic tools of cognitive behavioural therapy is the thought record. It is a diary in which you write down your negative thoughts and analyse them step-by-step. It gives you the chance to reflect on your thinking after the fact, when you’re not reacting out of fear or resentment, and a systematic approach to come up with healthier alternatives.
These are the 10 common types of negative thinking:
All-or-Nothing Thinking: “I have to do things perfectly because anything less is a failure.”
Disqualifying the Positives: “Nothing goes my way. I don’t like my life. It feels like one disappointment after another.” A variation is being overly judgmental: “Things aren’t like they used to be. The world is falling apart. People aren’t nice any more. I don’t like what I see around me.”
Negative Self-Labelling: “I’m a failure. If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me. I am flawed.”
Catastrophising. “If something is going to happen, it’ll probably be the worst case scenario.”
Excessive Need for Approval: “I can only be happy if people like me. If someone is upset, it’s probably my fault.”
Mind Reading: “I can tell people don’t like me because of the way they behave.”
Should Statements: “People should be fair.”
Disqualifying the Present: “I’ll relax later. But first I have to rush to finish this.”
Dwelling on Pain. "If I dwell on why I'm unhappy and think about what went wrong, maybe I’ll feel better." Alternately, "If I worry enough about my problem, maybe I will feel better."
Pessimism. "Life is a struggle. I don't think we are meant to be happy. I don't trust people who are happy. If something good happens in my life, I usually have to pay for it with something bad."
These techniques can complement the work you do with your doctor, but they should normally be used in combination with professional guidance. At Bude Counselling Room we assess whether CBT is the most appropriate therapy for your problems. If cognitive therapy is right for you, we can assist you in your road to recovery, quickly and effectively.