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Are you depressed, dealing with anxiety, PTSD an Eating Disorder or some other mental health issue? You probably are wondering what type of therapy works best for you. In my practice in Santa Monica, I use dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy. Of course there are others many others (probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 300). The most common other types of therapy you’ll hear about are: Psychodynamic therapy, Psychoanalysis, Interpersonal therapy, Experiential therapy. 

I’d love to know what therapy methods you have experienced (negative and positive). Let’s talk about it in the comments!

 

 

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Don’t be mean to people who majored in psychology.

There’s a tendency for people to assume that anyone who majors in psych just doesn’t know what else to do with their lives - that they’re going to college because their parents want them to have a degree, so they might as well do something “easy.”

Let me explain you a thing: psychology is NOT easy. We work just as hard, do the same amount of internships and senior thesis research. Increasingly, psychology is being approached as an entirely scientific field (as opposed to the humanities label it previously labored under); as such, most of us are learning a lot of biology and chemistry, sometimes on our own just to keep up. We’re not resting on our laurels and quoting Freud.

(We fucking hate Freud).

So do us all a favor. The next time someone tells you that their major is psychology, don’t roll your eyes. Instead, ask them why. Ask them about something interesting they’ve learned. Ask them if their focus is cognitive psychology, or social psychology, or school psychology, or behavioral neuroscience. Ask them if they want to research and teach, or if they want to be a practitioner. 

Trust me when I say that they’ll be delighted to relieve you of your prejudices.

Types of Irrational Thoughts or Cognitive Distortions.

These definitions and examples of irrational thoughts will help you identify when you’re having an irrational thought, and use rational thinking to stop it!

  1. Mind Reading: Assuming that you know what people are thinking without having sufficient evidence of their thoughts. EX: “He thinks I’m a loser.”

  2. Fortune Telling: You predict the future. That things will get worse or that there is a danger ahead. EX: “I’ll fail that exam” or “I won’t get that job.”

  3. Catastrophizing: You believe that what has happened or will happen will be so awful and unbearable that you won’t be able to stand it. EX: “It would be terrible if I failed.”

  4. Labeling: You assign global negative traits to yourself and others. EX: “I’m undesirable.” or “He is a terrible person.”

  5. Discounting Positives: You claim that the positives that you of others attain are trivial. EX: “That’s what wives are supposed to do. So it doesn’t count when he’s nice to me.” or “Those successes were easy, so they don’t matter.”

  6. Negative Filter: You focus almost exclusively on the negatives and seldom all the positives. EX: “There are lots of people who don’t like me.”

  7. Overgeneralizing: You perceive a global pattern or negatives on the basis of a single incident. EX: “I always fail.”

  8. Dichotomous Thinking: You view events, or people, in all-or-nothing terms. EX: “I get rejected by everyone” or “This was a waste of time.”

  9. Shoulds: You interpret events in terms of how things should be rather than simply focusing on what is. EX: “I should do well, if I don’t I’m a failure.” or “I should have done this. It would have been better if I did.”

  10. Personalizing: You attribute a disproportionate amount of the blame to yourself for negative events and fail to see that certain events are also caused by others. EX: “My marriage ended because I failed.”

  11. Blaming: You focus on another person as the source of your negative feelings and you refuse to take responsibility for changing yourself. EX: “My parents caused all my problems.”

  12. Unfair Comparisons: You interpret events in terms of standards that are unrealistic. For example, you focus primarily on others who do better than you and find yourself inferior in the comparison. EX: “She’s more successful than I am.” or “Others did better than I did on the test.”

  13. Regret Orientation: You focus on the idea that you could have done better in the past, rather on what you can do better now. EX: “I could have done a better job if I tried.” or”I shouldn’t have said that.”

  14. What If’s: You keep asking a serious of questions about what will happen if something goes wrong and fail to be satisfied with every answer. EX: “What if I get anxious? Or what if I can’t catch my breath.”

  15. Emotional Reasoning: You let your feelings guide your interpretation of reality. EX: “I feel depressed, therefore my marriage is not working out.”

  16. Inability to Disconfirm: You reject any evidence or arguments that might contradict your negative thoughts. EX: you think “I’m unlovable” and ignore the fact that people do love you.

  17. Judgement Focus: You view yourself, others and events i terms of good-bad or superior-inferior, rather than simply describing, accepting or understanding. You are continually measuring yourself and others according to arbitrary standards, finding that you and others fall short. You are focused on judgement of others as well as judgement of yourself. EX: “I didn’t perform well in college.” or “If I take up tennis, I won’t do well.” or “Look how successful she is, I am not successful.”

CBT. Questioning your thoughts.

CBT. We often remember the situation we were in and how we felt - but forget our thoughts. Which are the most important part. Feelings are based on reason. Thoughts are learned opinions rather that facts. That means they can be examined, questioned and changed.

Let me paint you a picture,

You start to feel bad.

What you should do is to write down the situation (I failed a test - I relapsed from my ed/self harm) then your thoughts (I am a failure - I’m right back where I started) and how you feel and the strengh of it. (Self hate 8 - Guilt 10) Once you have written down your negative thoughts, ask yourself these questions to help you find the sensible answers.

1. Is there any evidence that supports this thought? Is this thought correct?
2. Am I confusing my thoughts with my feelings or facts?
3. Am I jumping to conclusions?
4. Are other explanations possible? Is this the only possible explanation?
5. Are these thoughts useful and helpful - or are they in my way?
6. What are the pros and cons of thinking this way?
7. Am I asking questions that have no answer?
8. Am I thinking in black and white?
9. Am I generalizing by using questionable terms like always, never, nobody, everybody, everything and nothing?
10. Am I judging myself from a one time event?
11. Am I focusing on my weaknesses because of how I feel and forgetting about my qualities?
12. Am I blaming myself from something that isn’t my fault or responsibilty?
13. Am I taking things too personally and trying to read minds?
14. Am I expecting perfection?
15. Do I only noticing the dark sides?
16. Am I overestimating the chances of disaster?
17. Am I putting too much meaning into this event?
18. Is there anything I can do to change my position?
19. Am I predicting the future without testing it out?
20. What are the sensible arguiments against my thoughts?
21. If I look at my thoughts objectivly, what arguiment seem the most sensible?

I will set an example so you get the general idea and can start to practice.

For example:
Situation - Relapsed from my self harm.
Thoughts - I’m right back where I started. Why do I always have to ruin everything. I should have tried harder to resist the urge. I’m a failure. Everything I do sucks.
Feelings - Regret 9 Guilt 8 Dissapointed 10

Re-evaluation:
Are these thoughts helpful or are they in my way? Am I judging myself from a one time event? Am I generalizing by using questionable terms like always, never, nobody, everybody, everything and nothing? Am I exagerating because of the way I feel?

Sensible answers: These thoughts are not helpful or inspiring. I will only feel worse if I think like this. That does not mean I’m stupid for thinking like this - I’m only acknowledging my thoughts so I can move past them. I am not right back where I started - I have come a long way. I am generalizing by using the terms always and everything. It’s not fair of me to label myself from this one event. It’s not true that I am a failure. I have done many things well. Relapse is very common and very normal - it does not mean I will start to use this behavior as often as I did, that is jumping to conclusions and predicting the future. I sometimes do things I regret just like everybody else. That is okay. I am human. I am limited. Why shouldn’t I be able to get back on track like I have done in the past?
Feelings - Hope 9 Balance 7 Regret 6

Insight into CBT. I’m a newly graduated therapist and I mostly work with teenagers for depression and anxiety. I give advice and direction over the internet. Feel free to email me at: adamcali@hotmail.co.uk

Best of luck,
Adam

Schema Therapy; At Home Exercises

Sometimes when we have emotions, we have knee jerk reactions to those emotions, and a lot of knee jerk reactions tend to do our mental health more harm than good, both short term, and long term.

With these exercises, the aim is to introduce a healthy analysis of our emotions, before we go to our habitual go-to reactions.

Here are some exercises to try at home, that can help you arm yourself with ideas and tactics when faced with difficult emotions or not knowing how to deal with things in a healthy way;

  • Think of five healthy soothers.

  •  Think of six reasons why recovery is worth it.
  • Think of one goal for this week.

  • Think of three emotions you are experiencing right now.
  • Think of four things you can do when you feel angry or frustrated.

  • Match seven emotions with seven needs. Match these needs with seven healthy actions.
  • Write about your two most common emotions.

  • Think of five nice things you could do for yourself.
  • Where in your body do you feel your most common emotions?

  • Think of three situations where you are vulnerable to feeling bad, emotionally tired, or over whelmed.
  • Write out some situations that got to you, why they got to you, and what you could do next time to deal with the situation better.