Developed in the 1960's and widely practiced today, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a scientifically proven method of treating a variety of psychological issues --- from schizophrenia to anxiety and depression to substance abuse. Taking a holistic approach to mental health, this technique involves analyzing one's relationship to negative thoughts and behaviors, disrupting the negative feedback loop, and creating a new and healthy alignment of thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
While CBT does involve meeting with a licensed therapist on a regular basis, there are a few tips that anyone can follow to assist in improving their mental health.
Each week I will give you one action that can get you started on the right track.
Week 2 : Restructure Your Thoughts
Identify negative thought patterns and disrupt them before they lead to negative behavior. If you are depressed, for example, a vicious cycle can develop between your harmful thoughts, unhealthy emotions, and damaging behavior patterns.
Try to stop this feedback loop. Look out for the running commentary going on in your head. Don't take it at face value. Examine your thoughts and realize that they are just thoughts. This can help stop unhelpful thinking patterns and allow you to make a conscious effort to change them.
Thought restructuring steps:
Use a thought diary to record your thoughts and emotions and various points throughout your day.
Write down automatic thoughts (thoughts that provide a running commentary of our experiences).
Write down all emotions related to those thoughts and rate their intensity on 0-100 scale (typically there is more than one and no emotion has the same intensity).
Write down reactions to the experience.
Each of the above techniques are effective in helping to create a more psychologically grounded lifestyle. When implemented together along with regular professional help, they can truly transform your life.
Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in Ridgewood, Hoboken, NYC and and newly opened Jersey City. He has extensive clinical and research experience spanning individuals of all ages, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. He specializes in men’s issues, couple’s counseling, and relationship problems. His therapeutic approach focuses on providing support and practical feedback to help patients effectively address personal challenges. He integrates complementary modalities and techniques to offer a personalized approach tailored to each patient. He has been trained in cognitive-behavioral, dialectical behavior, schema-focused, and emotionally focused therapy, and has also been involved with research projects throughout his career, including two National Institute of Mental Health-funded studies. He is a member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New Jersey Psychological Association, Northeast Counties Association of Psychologists, New York State Psychological Association, The International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy, The New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy, the International OCD Foundation, the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB) and a regular contributor to Psychology Today.