Category Archives: Psychotherapy

Tools and techniques from psychological theory

Are you ready to graduate from therapy?

Looking back, you may remember how hard it was to decide to engage in therapy. It’s scary trusting a stranger with your stuff, never mind admitting that you have stuff! Well, ending therapy (also known as graduating from or terminating therapy) can be similarly challenging. Let’s see how you can evaluate whether you are ready to graduate, ending options, and common fears about termination. Continue reading Are you ready to graduate from therapy?

A spring clean for avoidance

 

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Overflowing cupboards?

I am sure every household has it: The cupboard where things get shoved into while you hold the rest of the contents back with another arm before you close the door with your foot. At any moment this cupboard could swing open and spill it contents on the floor – or worse, fall all over you. Avoidance of the linen or Tupperware cupboard, perhaps?

Sometimes our memories can be like this. Uncontrollable, they spill out whenever they feel like it. Painful. Perhaps even shameful. It’s easy to succumb to the temptation to avoid these feared memories, but is it helpful?

Continue reading A spring clean for avoidance

What helps people change?

Some days I wish that I was a fairy godmother (or had a fairy godmother) who could swish a magic wand and take all the problems and suffering away. That would be so much easier than needing to undertake a process of personal change! If you have ever tried helping somebody going though a hard time you will be well aware that there are no magic wands. So what does help a person going through a change process?
Continue reading What helps people change?

Change is challenging

I have found this experiment very useful to explain the challenge in change:

Step 1. Cross your arms.

Step 2. Cross your arms in the opposite direction

Step 3. Reflect: Does it feel a bit uncomfortable?

For many it does! And if changing the way we cross our arms is uncomfortable, how much more so to change the way we eat, exercise, drink, smoke, talk, think…

The Transtheoretical model (Prochaska and colleagues) provides a helpful framework to conceptualize the PROCESS of change.

Continue reading Change is challenging

Confront those unhelpful beliefs

In a previous post, I explained the ABC’s of therapy. Today I wish to expand and teach you the ABCDE, specifically demonstrating the value of cognitive disputation to confront unhelpful beliefs.

Unhelpful beliefs

Firstly, let’s unpack how irrational beliefs contribute to the consequences. There are four main types of irrational (unhelpful) beliefs:

Demandingness: A rule about how the world should be

Catastrophizing: A prediction about how awful it would be if the rule was broken

Frustration intolerance: A belief about your inability to cope with it if the rule was broken

Global rating of self, others, or the world: Rating a unit as a whole based on a singular incident

I am sure you can imagine that a person who believes that

He (boss) should be fair and if he is not that is so awful I can’t stand it! If he is unfair, he is obviously a hateful bully

will experience feelings of anger, resentment, etc.

Cognitive disputation

Continue reading Confront those unhelpful beliefs

ABC, do re mi, CBT!

 

Even if you don’t believe that life is a musical, Maria taught the Von Trapp children a principle that also applies to psychology: ABC, do re mi, CBT!

So what are the ABC’s of therapy (specifically in CBT/REBT)?

A: Activating event

This is the trigger is you like. It can be an internal or external stimulus e.g. something happening, an unwelcome thought, or a bodily sensation.

 

B: Beliefs

I would like to call these IRRATIONAL beliefs, because they tend to create all kinds of unhelpful consequences at C.

C: Consequences

These consequences refer to the things you do and don’t do in response to the irrational beliefs. It can be behavioural (e.g. withdraw, avoid, fight), relational (e.g. strain on specific relationship), emotional (e.g. anxiety, depression, anger), or physiological (e.g. heart rate, breathing, trembling).

It is important to note that it is not A that causes C, rather it is B that causes C. We cannot always wave a magic wand and make A magically disappear. But what therapy can do is help you to change how you THINK about it.

For more information, do continue reading or book an appointment.

In the meantime, enjoy Maria and the Von Trapp children’s song! Use it as inspiration to practice ABC, do re mi, CBT.