My approach is mainly based on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) which is an empowering hunamistic way of solving problems of daily living that was developed by my mentor, Dr. Albert Ellis, the grandfather of cognitive behavioral therapy, in 1955. Most of us believe that the events in our lives cause us emotional distress and self-defeating behavior patterns, and are thus out of our control. This, as most of us know, leaves us feeling helpless and sometimes even hopeless; and tends to produce unhelpful emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, guilt, and jealousy. Corresponding behaviors, equally unhelpful, may include withdrawing, crying, avoiding situations, yelling, and blaming ourselves and others relentlessly.
Fortunately, as philosophers such as Epictetus, have told us for centuries "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them." REBT, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, capitalizes on this notion and teaches us that we can change the way we think in order to feel better and cope in the best way possible - even when it feels like our lives are falling apart, or we are in such a severe depression that we can't get out of bed, or our anxiety is so severe we can't face things, or we can't control our _________ (temper, eating, alcohol/drug use, children, moods, stress, etc.) anymore. Even in the face of the most extreme adversity, we can make a bad situation better by changing how we think about it so we can deal with it more effectively.
REBT or CBT is an extremely effective short-term problem-solving oriented therapy that will bring emotional, behavioral, and practical results. It can be applied to any problem of daily living, and as such you will take what you learn in therapy and be able to apply it to other areas of your life. You will leave therapy with the tools you need to overcome any obstacle that comes your way - no matter how bad it may be. While you may want to come back to therapy for a "tune-up" or support in the future, you will do so beacuse you want to, not because you have to.
Thoughts: There’s More to Them Than You Think by Drs' Naidich and Marcelo
Have you ever wondered why some people maintain a positive outlook in the face of negative events, whereas, others stumble over every pebble in life’s path? Recently, we read a newspaper article about a boy who had both his legs amputated after a car accident. Despite this tragedy, the boy maintains a positive attitude and even continues to play basketball and baseball through his local recreation department. He has not allowed bad fortune and a serious physical handicap to get in his way of the pursuit of happiness and emotional well-being. On the other hand, we know people who have gotten anxious or depressed over what appeared to be good fortune, such as a job promotion. What accounts for the different ways in which people react to and feel about life situations?
There are many components that may influence the way in which we emotionally react to and handle both good and bad life events such as: age, gender, race, culture, religion, and our genetic make-up. While we cannot change these characteristics, there is one factor that we can and often times would be best off examining and changing which influences the way in which we cope with positive and negative stressors. That is, our thoughts which significantly contribute to our emotional reactions. As Charles Darwin once said: "The highest possible stage in a moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts". With these words in mind, let’s give some thought to our thinking.
Is it the job promotion that leads to anxiety, depression, and other unhelpful negative emotions? If so, then everyone who got a promotion would feel anxious or depressed. Obviously, we know that this is not the case. If 100 people got a flat tire, would we expect them to all feel the same way about the flat? No, clearly we wouldn’t. In all likelihood, some people would get angry and curse and scream before changing the tire, while others would take it in stride and replace the tire without getting angry. Why is this so?
For hundreds of years, philosophers and other great thinkers have provided us with clues to the answer to this question. For example, Epictetus once said: "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them". And Milton postulated: "The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven out of hell, and a hell of heaven".
Over the past several decades, cognitive behavioral psychologists have developed theories of psychology and emotional wellness that relate to the above lessons. To put it simply, many of the theories posit that it’s our thoughts that count, or that determine how we react to life events.
For example, if after getting a flat tire, one overacts and thinks and continues to say to himself: "This sucks"…This is terrible"…"Why does this always happen to me?"…"I can’t stand it"… anger will be the likely emotional response. And if he typically thinks in an awfulizing and negative way, then he will likely be more prone to psychosocial and physical difficulties like anger, depression, poor relationships, stroke and heart disease.
On the other hand, someone who thinks to himself: "I’m lucky it’s not raining"…"I’m glad that I have a spare tire"…"I can handle this"…"This is a hassle, not a horror", will react in a more realistic manner. And if he usually thinks in a rational way, or in a way that is appropriate for the situation, then he is more likely to be psychologically and physically healthy.
In fact, research suggests that there is a direct relationship between one’s thoughts, and their emotions and the immune system’s response. For example, in a recent research study, married couples were asked to think about and discuss with each other a recent argument that they had between themselves. Before and during this discussion, researchers took blood samples from the participants. For perhaps the first time, researchers were able to show a direct relationship between one’s thinking and the immune system’s response. More specifically, although on the outside, participants appeared calm while discussing their recent arguments with their spouses, their blood samples revealed a decrease in certain hormones and blood cells which are necessary for optimal immune system functioning.
Similarly, in a long-term research project conducted a the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, data indicated that research participants who thought in negative and hostile ways had a significantly higher incidence of heart disease and stroke. Clearly, the mind is an integral part of our body; and physical and emotional well-being cannot be easily separated.
Realistically, there are tragedies in life that are accompanied by negative emotions like disappointment, frustration, grief, and deep sorrow, etc. However, a person’s thoughts can account for the difference in whether someone feels sadness or clinically depressed after a negative life event, such as the diagnosis of a major medical condition.
For a long time, psychologists have known that people suffering from depression have more cognitive distortions and negative thoughts about themselves, the world, and the future. They also tend to feel more helpless, hopeless and worthless. On a positive note, research with depressed individuals suggests that treatment focusing on changing peoples’ thought process is a particularly effective treatment for depression.
We all think negatively or irrationally; however, we are empowered because we can change the way we think in order to feel better and cope in the best way possible.
In order to pursue optimal psychological health, one way to start is to begin to monitor our thinking regularly. The next step is to examine or question our thoughts and ask ourselves things like: Are our thoughts rational or reasonable? Are they helpful in changing the situation or making us feel better? Are they in proportion to what has happened? Is there any evidence that our beliefs are true? So, the next time you are experiencing a dysfunctional emotion like anger or depression, try asking yourself what are you thinking or telling yourself to make yourself feel this way.
Did you know that we have thousands of thoughts each day? Some are rational and helpful, while others are irrational and unhelpful. Monitoring these thoughts and changing some of them when necessary will take some effort, especially in the beginning. However, like physical exercise, the benefits are clearly worth the effort in the long run; and it gets easier with practice.
So go ahead and practice, practice, practice!!! You can change how you feel and what you do by changing how you think!!!