Automatic Thinking And Negative Core Beliefs

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Automatic thinking is a term that comes up a lot around these parts and refers to the self-talk or narrative that folks with depression and anxiety immediately engage in as a response to an activating event or trigger. Automatic thinking can be the result of a trigger or can act as a trigger for distress. Many of the clients I work with are often curious about how or why this type of thinking occurs. The primary source of automatic thinking are core beliefs; beliefs that we hold about ourselves, others and/or the world around us. Individuals who struggle with a mental health issue typically have negative core beliefs that can influence thinking on a variety of events that occur on a day to day basis.

Core beliefs can center around …show more content…

These events, especially when they are experienced at younger ages, can have a very big influence on core beliefs as survival becomes the driving force in holding onto the belief. A survivor of sexual abuse may live in a home environment where the belief of "I am not safe" is actually adaptive. This belief helps to maintain the kind of vigilance the survivor needs to avoid the trauma.

Once the survivor leaves the home environment the cost-benefit of the belief and the behaviors connected to it shifts. Because of the association the belief has to survival, it may be very difficult for the survivor to consider any other alternative in their thinking. Imagine living your day to day life in a mine field for the first 12-17 years of your life. Now imagine someone taking you away, placing you in the middle of another field, telling you "there is nothing to worry about now" and even demonstrates this by running through the field carelessly. How easy do you imagine it would be for you to act according to that evidence?

There are several steps to changing core beliefs in therapy, the first one involves actually identifying it. In CBT, the process to accessing a core belief involves asking a series of repetitive questions around an automatic thought or hypothesis a client has in relation to an activating event or trigger.

T- "So you're saying that

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