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Challenging Negative Automatic Thoughts

Being part of a CBT workshop series for psychiatric medical staff

Derek Lee

on 22 February 2012

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Transcript of Challenging Negative Automatic Thoughts

Negative Automatic Thoughts The ability to help clients recognise and challenge their negative automatic thoughts (NATs) is a fundamental skill in CBT NATs are situation-specific thoughts that are ignited, glow for a moment, and are then extinguished, leaving behind a fire of the emotions We need to understand the situations in which they are ignited. Common themes will form part of our eventual formulation of the client's cognitive architecture within the context of their personal story This is the moment they need to be captured and recorded. It may be a phrase, a word or an image. It is often over-rehearsed, pre-conscious and laden with idiosyncratic meaning It is a skill to help clients identify their emotions accurately and distinguish them from cognitions Typology of Negative Automatic Thoughts Dichotomous reasoning Arbitrary inference Magnification and minimisation Personalisation Discounting the positive Over-generalisation Global judgements Moral imperatives Emotional reasoning Selective abstraction Also known as black-and-white thinking. Characterized by tendency to see things in terms of extreme categories rather than as shades of grey. For example, it is either a complete failure or a success. People are either good or bad. Also known as jumping to conclusions. The person comes to a conclusion on the basis of small scraps of evidence. It includes mind-reading and fortune-telling. For example, my friend did not call me so I must have done something to upset him. The conclusion is not supported by the evidence. Also known as the binocular trick. Here there is a tendency to exaggerate the negative aspects of a situation and play down any positive aspects. For example, it was terrible that I stumbled over some words in my wedding speech. They laughed at the jokes but I found them on the internet. Here there is a tendency to take the blame for events that you cannot be responsible for. For example, if your friend does not enjoy the film you see together at the cinema. Also known as reverse alchemy - turning gold into lead. It is about making a negative of a positive. He said I was good at my job but he does not understand what I really do. Listen for a positive statement followed by a "but". This is a tendency to see a single event as being the norm. The traffic lights are always red when I am late for work. Also known as labelling or awfulising. This is the tendency to judge a person or situation in an extreme way. I am completely useless. This is manifested in the use of words such as should, ought and must. Herein lie the seeds of guilt, shame and anger. Here we are mistaking our emotions for facts. My feelings of dread mean that something terrible is going to happen, rather than seeing that the dread is driven by my thoughts of something terrible happening. Here there is a tendency to focus on a negative aspect of a situation without taking in the whole picture. The decorating is a disaster because one corner of the wallpaper is a little out of line. Global judgements Dichotomous reasoning Arbitrary inference Magnification and minimisation Personalisation Discounting the positive Over-generalisation Moral imperatives Emotional reasoning Selective abstraction s DAMP DOG MESs Some common problems in distinguishing between different types of NATs Selective abstraction vs Maximisation/Minimisation In selective abstraction, the person is condemning the whole situation on the basis of a small negative component. In maximisation/minimisation, the negative and positive aspects are seen out of proportion without necessarily condemning the whole. Over-generalisation vs Global Judgements Over-generalisations are recognisable through the use of absolutes such as always, never, everyone, nobody Global judgements tend to be about negatively labelling people or situations in extreme ways such as completely or utterly bad. Welcome to the Negative Automatic Thoughts Workshop Agenda Introductions
Nature of negative automatic thoughts
Typology of NATs
Some problems of differentiation
How to help clients challenge NATs Dr Derek Lee http://www.psychodelights.com
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