THE BASICS OF COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY:
The underlying principle of cognitive-behavioral therapy is that "usually, it is not
just what happens to us that makes us very upset; it is also how we interpret what
happens that makes us upset." We interpret events (consciously and unconsciously)
based on our beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, sensitivities, and values that we have
learned from previous experiences.
THE A-B-C-D-E MODEL OF THE STEPS OF COGNITIVE THERAPY:
A = THE ACTIVATING EVENT (SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU, OR A TROUBLING
THOUGHT THAT YOU HAVE) THAT INITIALLY BOTHERS YOU IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION.
B = YOUR EXAGGERATED OR OVER-SENSITIVE BELIEFS, ATTITUDES, ASSUMPTIONS,
VALUES (LEARNED FROM EARLIER HURTS) THAT MAKES THE CURRENT SITUATION SEEM
EVEN MORE NEGATIVE THAN IT HAS TO FEEL.
C = THE CONSEQUENCES THAT YOU FEEL (E.G. SAD, ANGRY, ANXIOUS, JEALOUS) BECAUSE
OF YOUR NEGATIVE OR OVER-SENSITIVE BELIEF SYSTEM ABOUT THE ACTIVATING EVENT.
D = DISCOVERING AND DISPUTING YOUR OVERLY NEGATIVE MALADAPTIVE BELIEFS, I.E.
BECOMING CONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF THEM, THEN QUESTIONING THEM AND ARGUING
AGAINST THEM (WITHIN YOURSELF) IN A RESPECTFUL BUT PERSISTENT WAY.
E = EFFECTIVE (LESS NEGATIVE, MORE FLEXIBLE) BELIEFS THAT YOU SUBSTITUTE FOR
For example, if a man was often criticized by his older brother when they were young
YOUR PREVIOUS OVERLY NEGATIVE OR OVERLY SENSITIVE BELIEFS.
(the previous hurt), and years later the man's work performance is criticized by his employer
(the current activating event), he may then interpret the employer's criticism in an especially
negative and over-sensitive manner due to the old negative experiences. Therefore, he may
feel more angry or sad (the stronger emotional consequences) than the current situation
really calls for.
A solution is for him to become consciously aware of his current attitudes of over-
sensitivity to criticism, so that he can dispute those attitudes and interpret future criticism in
a less negative and less over-personalized manner.