CBT or RET/REBT Worksheets or Own Methods that Work for You
November 8, 2013 5:59 PM   Subscribe

I have struggled with intense anxiety and depression for many years. My counselor who still uses RET (REBT) is helpful. I have read Feeling Good (CBT) along with other books of RET author Albert Ellis...but I have difficulty finding a way that makes sense in disputing my thoughts that I stick with. I am willing to put the time in but I am curious is anyone here is willing to share their own style of doing CBT or RET homework that works for them. I'm not asking for shortcuts but unique ways you may have tweaked either layout or jotting down things. I am open to whatever you might suggest. (For what it is worth, I find Albert Ellis' writing rather strange but understand the philosophy of REBT and CBT.)
posted by snap_dragon to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
One thing I do is write the different columns from the worksheets (thought record, etc.) on separate index cards. I have a lot of trouble with the columns for whatever reason, probably the ADHD. There's never enough room and I can't see how stuff relates to each other.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 7:34 PM on November 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That is helpful...thanks, Fee.
posted by snap_dragon at 8:19 PM on November 8, 2013

I find labelling/all-or-nothing thinking to be the sort of key thing I'm missing. "I'm a terrible person" presupposes every thing you do is terrible.

Examples of what thoughts you're having difficulty with could help us a bit more.

Also, you must put the time in, seriously, to hold on to initial gains.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:53 PM on November 8, 2013

Best answer: Also, don't forget the two-column techinque in Feeling Good. Merely measuring the utility of the negative thinking goes around evidence-based arguing with yourself about whether your negative thought is true.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:56 PM on November 8, 2013

Best answer: Ironmouth, I tend to do a lot of mind reading, sometimes with people not even in existence. For example, I might think "Cindy thinks I am ____, I must win her approval --or, she is right, I better change _____"; in terms of abstract "People will think ____ if I do or say _____, so I better not think or say ______." When I use "People", it usually ends up being some abstract group of imaginarypeople, an overgeneralization, or all-or-nothing, if I am taking one actual person's opinion and generalizing to abstract groups. So a lot of approval and self-downing. There are a lot of other examples of different distortions but I will leave it at that. I think keeping it simple, whether like you suggest with the two column or as Fee does to keep sort of a creative flow are some good places to start. It isn't so much that I don't get the logical fallacies and cognitive distortions in thinking; it is the method of staying consistent with something that works for me that I'm having difficulty with. Hope this makes sense.
posted by snap_dragon at 6:09 AM on November 9, 2013

Maybe the Thought Diary Pro app could be helpful.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:39 AM on November 9, 2013

Best answer: I do this one called 'thinking out of the box'
you make two columns, on one you write 'unhelpful and unrealistic', on the other, 'helpful and realistic'
so e.g. 'i'm a terrible person' --> 'i am a good person sometimes, e.g.'
do 10 thoughts, every day, I think it really helps.
posted by dinosaurprincess at 5:28 PM on November 9, 2013

Response by poster: Excellent @dinosaurprince!
posted by snap_dragon at 5:41 PM on November 9, 2013

Response by poster: @thegreatfleacircus - Does it allow for response/replacement thoughts? Seems promising.
posted by snap_dragon at 5:50 PM on November 9, 2013

Best answer: Something I find useful is to review my dispute an hour or two after having done it to see how my feelings have changed. Sometimes it takes a while for them to go away and sometimes I'm targeting the wrong thought altogether. I also maintain a spreadsheet so I can see if that particular dispute has worked for whatever emotion is problematic. Then I can return to that spreadsheet later and see what's worked and hasn't worked in the past. I use boomerang to remind me when the time is up (http://www.boomeranggmail.com/) and do it all in gmail.

I write out the old belief, bullet points of why it's logically not true, then a new thought. The most important part of the process is getting that new belief or image to stick in your head. I keep my disputes brief so that I can easily refer to them and refresh the image.

I find that writing a lot less is helpful to keep the new thought in mind. If I write too much then I just forget it and it has no impact. My mind works very much on images, so CBT only really works for me if I can create a new abstract image in my mind. For example, sometimes I think of myself as foolish and I have an image of that in my head. Instead of letting that be my only picture of myself, I imagine it as a single frame in a movie reel with many different pictures of me on so I can see that this situation isn't as defining as I'm imagining it to be.

In addition, the first step I went through was to convince myself that my beliefs weren't actually helping me. I found the costs and benefits approach very useful for this, weighing up if it's helping or hindering me. I found that I only had to do this a few times before I was able to see my beliefs as being irrational.
posted by awesomathon at 6:45 AM on November 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, awesomathon...very descriptive and helpful. I too work better on images so I think altogether here I have some good things in place. Mefi has only helped me get better and better. Thanks everyone.
posted by snap_dragon at 6:15 PM on November 10, 2013

Hey just wanted to add that I found this mindfulness excercise in a new thread which might be useful! :)
posted by dinosaurprincess at 5:33 PM on November 20, 2013

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