An Example Of Cognitive Therapy

Alice is twenty-six year-old woman who works as a secretary at a doctor’s office. She is single and still lives with her parents. She is unhappy with her job but thinks that she is stuck there and can’t find another one. Alice also thinks that no one in her office likes her and that she has no friends. She has not had a date in months and wonders if she will ever have a boyfriend. She rarely goes out unless she goes to the movies by herself. She believes she fails at everything she does and that everyone and everything in life is against her. No matter what she does, she always feels miserable. She feels lonely, thinks she’s no good, and sees very little hope in her life ever getting better. Alice has felt more and more depressed as weeks go by and thinks that there must be something wrong with her.

Automatic Thoughts
Whether we feel happy, depressed, anxious, angry, guilty, or surprised, we feel the way we do because of the way we think. Sometimes, things happen so quickly that we do not even recognize or know that we are having these thoughts. We have become so used to them that we do not notice them. Our brain has created shortcuts used when we interpret situations so that we can respond to them as fast as possible. These shortcuts are called automatic thoughts and are the reasons we feel certain ways in different situations.

Although automatic thoughts are meant to help us, not all of them are useful. Alice has many thoughts that mental health professionals have identified as the “cognitive triad of depression.” People who are depressed usually have very negative views of themselves, their situations and those around them, and the future. When depressed, we often think that we are worthless, incompetent, and that no one likes us. We view our daily lives as full of obstacles and challenges that will never be overcome and that always result in failure. We never do anything right. The future seems to be hopeless, and nothing that we can do will ever change it.

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