Recently I enrolled in this thing called a recovery college that has a bunch of courses and workshops to help in recovery from mental illness. My DBT therapist suggested I sign up to a few things with it once my therapy was finished to help myself and give me something to do. I signed up for a mix of courses/workshops for emotional development, help looking for work and trying new hobbies. The first workshop I went to was anxiety management which involved an introduction to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) this is what we covered in that workshop.
What Is CBT?
To give a quick run down on what CBT is I’ve linked the video below. Please watch it, if you don’t know what CBT is, before proceeding as I don’t think what I say will make much sense if you don’t;
The cross sectional formula (hot cross bun model):
This model was designed to show how our thoughts connect with our environment, behavior, emotions and bodily sensations. It shows how all these elements of an anxious reaction interconnect. Thoughts are usually the first in the diagram because CBT believes that our thoughts are the main cause of our problems so it focuses on our thought patterns and how to make them more helpful to us. When filling out a template such as this you’d have to describe in each section what happened to trigger the reaction (environment) what thoughts came up, how it made you feel emotionally, what physical sensations you experienced and how these things made you behave. Below is an example of a filled out model;
The Worry Tree
The worry tree is a diagram that offers guidance on identifying the type of worry you have and how to resolve it, the two types of worries identified are Hypothetical and Practical (current). Hypothetical worries are things that aren’t actually happening right now but what you are worried might happen. These type of worries can be dealt with by setting a worry time. Practical worries are problems that are currently happening and need to be dealt with as soon as possible, usually through problem solving.
Worry time is when you schedule a time everyday to focus on whats worrying you so you can satisfy your brain’s urge to worry without disrupting your day by distracting you from your tasks. You can set aside time in the morning, afternoon, evening whatever time is best for you and you can make this worry time as long or short as you want. When you dedicate to this time, you’re not supposed to rationalize or talk down your concerns but allow yourself to feel anxious and ruminate a little to get it out of your system. You may want to write your thoughts and feelings down, once the time is up its a good idea to calm yourself down through things like Progressive muscle relaxation or breathing exercises.
This skill is also learned in DBT and can be applied to current problems by going through this step by step process to problem solve;
- Identify the problem– For help identifying the problem you should focus on, there is something called a Problem Statement which is a way of summarizing the difficulties you face. When writing a problem statement you need to consider the trigger, the symptoms and the impact of these things, to the right are some examples of a statement from ‘The CBT handbook‘.
- Write down as many possible solutions you can think of– You can do this by making a list or mind map. The idea is to consider ALL possible solutions even if they seem silly. It’s best to think outside the box at this stage.
- Think of the pros and cons to each solution– Write a list of ways that each solution could be beneficial and the ways they can be harmful.
- Pick the solution you think is best– Weight out the pros and cons of each solution, deciding which one you think is best for your situation.
- Plan how you will carry it out– Once you have decided on a solution plan step-by-step how you are going to implement it.
- Put the plan into action
- Review the results– Review how well the solution worked and if it didn’t, go back to step 4 and pick a different solution you think might work better.
I hope you found this post informative and useful, feel free to let me know what you think and whether you’ve had CBT before. Did it work for you? are there other helpful techniques you’ve learned from it? Thanks for reading, I hope to see you in the next one ❤