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Session 1: What is CBT & Automatic Thoughts

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

CBT looks at the links between thoughts, feelings, and our behaviors. The goal is to learn
how we can make helpful changes

CBT is based on the Cognitive Model of Emotional Response

Thoughts cause our feelings and behavior

The benefit is we can change the way we think, feel, and act better even when the
situation doesnt change

CBT uses the Socratic Method

Youll often be asked to check the facts

Socratic questions are questions that illicit you to ask questions, and check the

CBT is goal orientedCBT helps you to unlearn your unwanted reactions and to adapt
new ways of reacting

Homework is an essential part of CBT. Practice makes perfect!

Uncovering Automatic Thoughts

As you begin to uncover your automatic thoughts, it is helpful to have an understanding

of their nature and how they work, including how they can form complex *feedback
loops*. We will first discuss feedback loops, and then learn how to hear your own
automatic thoughts so you can begin to record them in a Thought Journal.

The event-thought-feeling sequence is the basic building block of emotional life.

However, we dont typically experience a simple series of ABC reactions, they mostly
occur in the form of a feedback loop in which the ending feeling from one sequence
becomes the starting event for another sequence.

A negative feedback loop can occur, in which an uncomfortable feeling then becomes an
activating event and the subject for further thoughts. In return, the negative thought
produces more painful feelings.

Feelings have a physiological component. When you experience emotions such as fear,
anger, or joy, your heart speeds up, you breathe faster and less deeply, and you sweat
more. When you experience what is known as quiet emotions (depression, sadness,
grief) your physiological system slows down. All emotions trigger an evaluation process
in which we begin to interpret and label feelings
Session 1: What is CBT & Automatic Thoughts

Events alone have no emotional content. It is our interpretation of an event that causes

ABC model of emotions

A= Activating Event
B= Thought
C= Feeling
Event: Your car breaks down on the side of the street and while you
are trying to get a hold of friends/family, you see your best friend
race by you after leaving her a voicemail
Thought: You interpret the event by thinking, What the hell, my
best friend just passed me as Im stuck on the side of the road.
Feeling: (Ask group how they would feel)
You experience an emotion appropriate to your thought. IN
this case, you probably feel abandoned, angry, depressed,
and unimportant.
Thought: A true friend would have stopped for me no matter what
Feeling: Unworthy, frustrated, rage,

If you can change your thought, you can change the way you feel. If you had the thought,
My friend must have had an emergency, or else he/she would have stopped to help
me, you would feel a mild annoyance at most.

Automatic thoughts typically have the following characteristics:

Appear in shorthand- composed of a few essential words phrased together

o I cant stand it, no good
They are almost always believedno matter how illogical the thought is, they
seem very believable
They are experienced as spontaneousyou believe them because they are
automatic and seem to arise spontaneouslypop in your mind without realizing
Should, Ought, or Must- people torture themselves with these wordsI should
be more happy, energetic, creative, lovingThey perpetuate a sense of guilt and
a loss of self-esteem
Tend to awfulize- automatic thoughts predict catastrophe, see danger in
everything, and anticipate the worstthese are the major source of anxiety

**Homework- Thought Journal & Questioning Automatic Thoughts

Due: Next class