As a therapist, my approach is somewhat eclectic, however, I draw a great deal from, and have been trained in, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
CBT helps with exploring our thought life and underlying beliefs about ourselves. This aids in better understanding distressful emotions and changing undesirable recurring behaviors. There may be times when our immediate thoughts discount other possibilities, are influenced by past experiences or have been wounded by unloving experiences. The full range of distressful to traumatic past experiences can distort our view of ourselves and deposit infected messages into our worth/beliefs.
Present situations can resemble these past experiences. We will have immediate thoughts about what is happening. These immediate, unprocessed and raw thoughts signal our brain as to what alerts it needs to send out through our emotions. It does this so that we will act. It does this so we will get safe and out of any danger. As an example, when we are experiencing fear we must get safe. The behavior will aim at relieving the distressful emotion.
Situation: I’m struggling with understanding an assignment.
Immediate thought: “No one cares or will help me”
-> I feel: Fear/distress/anxiety
-> Behavior: I quit the assignment.
Thoughts -> feelings -> behavior.
I may later be asking myself why I quit or feel like I over reacted.
What happens when our immediate thoughts have missed something or have inaccuracies? What if it seemed and felt like “no one” cared, but it turns out I’ve had past experiences where I was ridiculed. This past experience shaped a belief that I was “not good enough to be cared about” and now didn’t feel comfortable to ask for help because it feels embarrassing or I feel all alone despite others being present.
CBT aims to help with slowing things down to better understand why we acted the way we did, what we were really feeling and what thoughts and beliefs were the driving forces. It can help with more clearly seeing ways we may be limiting ourselves in our thoughts and what may be influencing our immediate ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.
Old wounds, where we may have experienced loss/been mistreated/been hurt, can get brushed in everyday life. This fresh pain can stir old injuries/experiences and underlying unloving beliefs about ourselves. Our thoughts may even feel out of our own control. We may start to see everything around us through a broken lens and not even realize it is happening. By uncovering limited thought patterns (infected thinking) we can better develop more balanced ways of thinking, feeling and acting. We can begin to feel more empowered in situations that feel eerily similar to past experiences where we had no choice. We can develop more intentional plans to respond to “familiar” situations rather than reacting or getting out of control.
Attached are CBT’s identified limited thought patterns. These “infected” thought patterns can be used as tool. They can help with familiarizing ourselves with thoughts that lead to a dead end. Identifying the weeds from the good roots, infected tissue from healthy. Ultimately, these thought patterns they promise one thing, but deliver another. Catching these thoughts and challenging them to truth/facts is the beginning to having more freedom in our thought life.
It is also important to process and better understand where these thought patterns first developed and their original purpose. Individual therapy can be helpful in developing better understanding of our thought life. This can be a beginning towards healing our beliefs about ourselves which creates greater capacity for coping with distress in every day life.
Interested in talking to Andrew Heinz, or one of our other therapists? Visit our website, or call our office, 970-490-1309, and we will be happy to match you with the best therapist for your needs.