Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A Life Model
Cognitive Behavior Therapy: A Life Model
Thinking about what you think about is certainty worth thinking about, but how many of us actually do it?
I find that most people have little insight to strategies and coping thoughts to put in place when it comes to tackling major cross roads and hassles.
As a Cognitive Behavior Therapist I work with clients to develop insight into their cognitive processes. Together we draw connections between how their cognitive processes translate into their daily thoughts, behaviors and emotions. As a therapy, CBT is symptom and present focused, but we also investigate and fix problems on a deeper level.
CBT is based on a life model rather than just a model for therapy. At its core it represents a basic model for how we relate to the world.
As humans, we continually process thoughts and images (cognitions), in response to the world around us. We also generate assessment ideas in response to those observations and internal cues of emotions and body sensations.
These assessment thoughts are immediate, subconscious thoughts known as Automatic Thoughts. They are the result of our previous experiences and serve to influence our future thinking style.
Our thinking style at its core consists of the values and attitudes we hold deeply. Usually these are inherited or learned at an early age. For each of us, these core beliefs generate a set of assumptions about how things should turn out. These assumptions create the mental rules and expectations from which we view new situations, thus influencing the immediate explanations and inferences we derive from new events.
These thoughts directly influence our mood, physical state and behaviors. These behaviors are not limited to the ones we actively engage in, but also include the ones we avoid.
What’s more, our mood, physical state and behaviors work to reinforce each other, while continuously reinforcing the original belief. The concept is similar to that of a school of fish that swims tightly together. Thus, if one member changes his position or switches direction the rest of the school naturally adapts, adjusting their behavior accordingly. Left unconsidered and unchallenged the shape and direction of your future is heavily derived by the patterns of your past. But what if the beliefs of your past are creating rules or patterns for your future that are no longer effective? What if some of the rules you employ could be effectively transferred to other areas of your life? Would you even know it?
To start the process, begin examining the expectations and assumptions in specific areas of your life. School or works histories are good places to start, since the patterns are usually consistent. Relationships patterns (romantic, friendships or familial) are important areas as well, but may be too complex to examine on your first attempt.
Make a list of the values and rules you believe to hold yourself to in situations that relate.
Make a list of the assumptions and expectations you knowingly have of others in those relatable situations.
Now think of 2 different scenarios that have occurred in that area of your life: one that you see as successful and one that you view as disappointing.
Decide in both situations if you were satisfied or disappointed in yourself or the other person or both? If you were disappointed, decided what expectations you and/or they failed to meet? If you were satisfied, decide which expectations and assumption were met or perhaps consider that maybe you were satisfied since a negative expectation was defied.
Compare these to original list of expectations and assumptions you assembled since chances are that is not a complete list. Consider what value each expectation brings to your life and how likely it is to be met. Think about the behaviors and rules that come along with those expectations, for you and for others. Think about the feelings that come with these expectations and how often they bring you happiness, anxiety, anger or disappointment.
As you begin to look at various scenarios across the different areas of your life you will start to begin to understand more about the beliefs you hold, how likely they are to bring you success and what beliefs and patterns needs to be extinguished.
I look forward to continuing the application of this valuable science in enhancing your life as I provide guidance and share my knowledge.