I failed to post this in a reasonable time. I honestly didn’t have a profound moment of learning. I realized that there are a lot of therapy techniques, and what will work for each person will somewhat depend on the person, but there are techniques that work.
I really like that there are some proven techniques. It validates the effectiveness and validity of therapy. Much like traditional medicine. One of those techniques is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Here are a few things that stood out to me:
Automatic Thoughts: This is the type of thinking that occurs automatically, like you probably just thought “that’s a stupid definiton” automatically. Automatic thoughts were described by Aaron Beck and are a component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Essentially, they are negative thoughts that sponteanously arise. These thoughts fall into three catagories: negative thoughts about the self, the future, and/or the world. Identifying these negative thoughts is the first step towards decreasing them and subsequently decreasing emotional pain.
Cognitive Distortions: These are type of automatic thoughts, they are similar, but also subtly different. I am going to list a few I probably do or have done.
Overgeneralization: Thinking one event is representive of all similar events. For example, one girl rejected me, so all girls will reject me. Actually, I don’t know what the big deal is with overgeneralization, everyone does it anyway.
(see what I did there..eh..eh…never mind)
Disqualifying the Positive: This is something I used to do fairly often. For example, a friend would told me I had a great standup performance, but I had a hard time believing him (still do). I focus on the few people who didn’t laugh, therefore my jokes were not funny, despite feedback telling me the opposite.
Catastrophizing: This is focusing on the worst possible outcome of any situation. “If I ask this girl out, she will say no, and I will die alone in a ditch.”
These are just a few, but one can see how this automatic thinking and cognitive distortions can lead to depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. Identifying them can be a big step towards better emotional health… and who doesn’t want that.
(stay tuned for stories from Tourrette’s Teacher, these have made for interesting moments in class)