Please respond to the following prompt(s). Your response must be at least 250 words in length (standard margins, 12pt Times font). The format of your response must include headings for each topic listed below. You may include information about your own personal experience, information from the book, and empirical research that you have found from a legitimate research journal (NOT Wikipedia or other similar sites). Please review the information on the syllabus about how to find an empirical research article.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapists believe that our intense feelings such as intense anger, intense sadness, intense anxiousness, often come from distorted thinking. For example, if I’m worried about all the work I have to do and have the thought “I’m never going to get this done”, I’m going to feel really anxious. This is because I’m telling myself “never”, when in fact, I can probably make a list of the steps I need to take to accomplish the task or think about it in another way that won’t leave me feeling overwhelmed.
The purpose of this assignment is for you to practice looking at your own thought patterns in a particularly stressful situation and to evaluate if this way of thinking is actually helping you in some way or if not, to consider a different perspective in order to help yourself feel better.
Complete the following steps to learn an approach to help you analyze and change negative thinking patterns:
- Think of a specific moment in time when you felt upset (recent moment works best but it doesn’t have to be recent). (Ie: Yesterday evening before I went to sleep when I was thinking about all of the work I needed to finish). Write this event at the top of your paper.
- List your negative thoughts on the paper (ie. “I’m never going to get this done”. “This is too much for me”. “My boss will be unsatisfied with my work”.) Only include the negative thoughts associated with how you were feeling in that moment. Factual statements or feeling statements will not work for the exercise.
- Write your feelings associated with each thought in parentheses next to each thought (Please review the Feeling Words Chart ( )(ie. “I’m never going to get this done” (anxious, nervous, worried). “This is too much for me” (sad, hopeless, worried). “My boss will be unsatisfied with my work” (ashamed, embarrassed, incompetent).
- Identify and write down the distortions next to each of your thoughts (please review attached chart of common cognitive distortions ( ). (ie. “I’m never going to get this done”= fortune telling, all-or-nothing thinking, self-blame.); (“This is too much for me” = Emotional Reasoning, Magnification, Mental filter). (“My boss will be unsatisfied with my work” = Mind-Reading, overgeneralization). As you can see, there are multiple distortions for each thought.
- Write an explanation about why each distortion fits with that thought (ie. “I’m never going to get this done”= Fortune Telling because I’m assuming that I won’t get this done in the future when in reality I don’t know. All-or-nothing thinking because I’m thinking about the entire amount of work rather than considering each aspect or step that it takes. Self-blame because I’m blaming myself in this situation when there are other areas of my life that are requiring my attention and that makes it more difficult to focus on my work).
- Re-write your thoughts without the distortions in them (ie. “I’m never going to get this done”. = “I feel anxious about the amount of work I need to accomplish but I can break the work down into smaller steps and make time in my schedule to help myself accomplish them”).
- Write a reflection about how this exercise went for you.
**Note: this technique is called the “straight-forward technique”. There are more than 50 techniques you can use with your thoughts so if you notice that it doesn’t help you feel better about the situation, there are other approaches that can be used. For example, imagine a best friend comes to you with your same background and the same problem. What would you say to your friend? (Double-Standard technique). Also, there may be very good reasons that you are having these thoughts and feelings about the upsetting situation. Maybe you need to take action to change something about the situation so you need the intense feelings to motivate you to change something. When I work with clients, I would help them with that piece and believe that it is essential for any technique to work. So, if it doesn’t work for you, ask yourself if there’s something you need to actually do about the situation or what “benefits” are the negative thoughts and emotions providing for you? (ie. anxiety and fortune-telling sometimes feel protective. If I can anticipate something bad happening, I won’t feel surprised if it does. On the other hand, it is awful be very anxious all the time. So, weighing what’s important to you is essential and deciding how much of the anxiety is worth working on to lessen it).