How To Deal With Negative Self Talk: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness Training and Self Compassion

Friday, September 12, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Dr. David Burns, author of When Panic Attacks, and Dr. Ronald Siegel, author of The Mindfulness Solution, discuss self compassion as a balm for anxious thoughts. Dr. Howard Cutler and the Dalai Lama also discuss this concept in the book The Art of Happiness. All four provide slightly different viewpoints with some important areas of overlap, namely, that we all talk down to ourselves far too much, and with little justifiable reason.

And this is something we can change.  

There are many different methods for changing thought patterns which is why I have a whole series of posts on it (a few of which are linked at the bottom of this article). But for today, let's look at mindfulness and self compassion. Of these techniques the latter is usually slightly more confrontational than the former. 

Latter (Compassion): “Would you say that shit to your best friend? No? Then don't say it to yourself.”

Former (Mindfulness): “I will simply notice the words and allow them to roll off as water on a duck’s back.” 

At first glance, they hardly seem related. But, trust me, they are....  continue reading

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Using Storytelling to Decrease Depression and PTSD Symptoms

Monday, July 14, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Sometimes a pencil is just a pencil. (I think Freud said that.) And sometimes, a pencil is a great deal more. (He probably said that too.)

Writing is a powerful tool for those dealing with mental health issues. It might be especially important in cases of trauma where integrating memory is a critical part of healing. Creative engagement, in the form of writing or other artistic expression, serves to decrease anxiety, stress and other psychological disturbances1


As if you needed more excuses to lock yourself up with a notebook, expressive writing also improves complications of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and depressive symptoms in those with a history of sexual abuse2. Writing may also improve sexual dysfunction issues in those who write specifically about sexual topics2. This type of writing may also serve to decrease depressive symptoms in those from abusive relationships3.

That's a pretty powerful pencil....  continue reading

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Using Humor to Combat Stress, Reduce Phobias and Decrease Intrusive Thoughts

Friday, May 23, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Laughter. It’s kind of a big deal. 

I, to my benefit or my peril, have the uncanny ability to turn almost anything into a ridiculous, sarcasm-filled fantasy. If this sounds fun to you, humor may be just the ticket out of scary thoughts

The Psychological Benefit of Laughter

Humor may be just as effective at reducing fear as desensitization, a type of exposure therapy1. Even the simple act of smiling has the ability to improve mood according to David Eagleman author of Incognito8

But why would this be?...  continue reading

How To Deal With Fears, Phobias and Intrusive Thoughts: Exposure Therapy

Friday, May 09, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

This is my mother's all-time favorite joke:

Q: "Why don't cannibals eat clowns?"
A: "Because they taste funny!" 

Here's how it would go for someone with coulrophobia:
Q: "Why don't cannibals eat clowns?"
A: "Because clowns are fucking terrifying!" 

Clowns are one of the more common phobias, and it's easy to see why....  continue reading

How To Stop Intrusive Thoughts: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Thought Replacement and Visual Substitution

Friday, March 07, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

Thought replacement is one of the most widely-used techniques in cognitive behavioral treatment. It is also one of the most self-explanatory techniques under the cognitive behavioral umbrella. What you do is...replace your thoughts. 

This is often easier said than done, especially when you have a set of scary thought patterns or negative self talk cycles that have become persistent over time. People who experience the same thoughts over and over again have a more difficult time with replacement, simply because the thoughts tend to become a part of their daily experience. Thought replacement aims to change that by encouraging a different response when the automatic pattern begins. 

Let's check out an example....  continue reading

How To Cope With Intrusive Thoughts: Introduction to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the Cost Benefit Analysis

Monday, February 17, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Treatment Techniques

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, gosh-darn it, people like me."

Stuart Smally, from the old Saturday Night Live skits may be the poster child for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): the gold standard in treatment for numerous issues including anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, and low self-esteem, just to name a few. The premise behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that by altering your thought patterns, you can change how your body responds, essentially short-circuiting undesired physical symptoms such as the fight or flight response....  continue reading