May 9th, 2012 marks the 7th anniversary of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Our goal is to increase awareness about the importance of children’s mental health, reinforcing the belief that positive mental health is essential to a child’s healthy development from birth. One technique youth can utilize to gain a healthy lifestyle is the knowledge and application of Cognitive Restructuring. Cognitive restructuring has been utilized in different types of therapy, such as CBT, to help individuals experiencing a variety of psychiatric conditions. These could include depression, anxiety, social phobia, personality disorders, ADHD, and more.
Cognitive restructuring is the process of learning to identify and challenge irrational or maladaptive thoughts using strategies such as logical disputation.
Various types of therapy utilize the process of cognitive restructuring, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive therapy (RET). CBT consists of the general technique of cognitive restructuring and a core procedure of the Socratic method. A number of studies demonstrate considerable efficacy in using CR-based therapies.
Cognitive restructuring involves four steps:
1. Identification of problematic cognitions known as “automatic thoughts” (ATs) which are dysfunctional or negative views of the self, world, or future
2. Identification of the cognitive distortions in the ATs
3. Rational disagreement of ATs with the Socratic dialogue
4. Development of a rational contradiction to the ATs
There are six types of automatic thoughts:
1. Self-evaluated thoughts
2. Thoughts about the evaluations of others
3. Evaluative thoughts about the other person with whom they are interacting
4. Thoughts about coping strategies and behavioral plan
5. Thoughts of avoidance
6. Any other thoughts that were not categorized
When utilizing cognitive restructuring in CBT, it is combined with components of the P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E to achieve a decrease in automatic thoughts. The cognitive behavioral approach is said to consist of three core techniques: cognitive restructuring, training in coping skills, and problem solving. If you are interested in these techniques and would like to learn more, you can reach Anita K. Lovell, a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner, by calling 402-325-0117.