The Huddle Blog

Sharing thoughts on cognitive-based therapy and how online group therapy can help us get better, together.

Example of self-monitoring for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

By maggie

1) What was the trigger? Was it internal or external? My mom told me about her friend that was diagnosed with cancer 2) What sensations do you feel? heart beating faster, tightness in chest, short of breath, light-headedness 3) What thoughts are you having? what if I have cancer?   4) What is your reaction to the sensations and the thoughts? what if I can’t stop thinking about this? what if my anxiety doesn’t go away?   5) What types of avoidance do you want to engage in? I knew it was OCD, but I wanted to check my symptoms on WebMD. I wanted to ask my mom about it. Then I wanted to distract myself. 6) Did you engage in avoidance/neutralization/compulsions? Yes 7) If yes, what did you do? If no, why didn’t you? Immediately after my mom told me about her friend, I told my mom I was anxious and asked her if I could possibly have cancer. She said no, but then I felt a weird sensation in my arm and looked it up online. Later in the night, I kept thinking about it and watched some movies to distract myself.

Belief problem v. Workable Attitude

By maggie

As I described in the section on theories of responding to psychological suffering, I belong to the school of thought that believes that it is your response to yourself and your environment that determines your sense of wellbeing. It is not your circumstances themselves, but rather your interpretation of them and your beliefs about them that determines how you think, feel, and act. I call those thoughts that drive ineffective behavior “belief problems.” Various psychologists throughout the years have used different terms for the same problem. They are called cognitive distortions, negative schemas, problematic scripts, and over-used defense mechanisms in other schools of thought. I use the term belief problem because I want it to cue you to remember that your thought, feeling, sensation, or situation are not your problem. They may cause you pain but they don’t cause your suffering. If you recognize that it is human nature to experience pain and you let the moments of pain occur without resistance, your suffering will decrease over time. I also like the term belief problem because it speaks to the foundational parts of who you are. Typically when people talk about their beliefs, they are referring to a particular set …

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Belief problems that contribute to worry

By maggie

It is rare that the anxious person will go to a doctor and say, “My problem is that I’m afraid of my thoughts.” You are more likely to complain, “I’m always thinking… I can’t stop thinking… I can’t turn my mind off… I can’t relax… I can’t sleep… I can’t concentrate because of my worries.” This is called fear of thoughts, because of the process that got you to the point where you feel as though you can’t stop thinking.  The more you resist what shows up in your mind, the more likely it will occur in your mind. Make sure you don’t think of a white bear right now. Are you able to do it? It is very likely that the image of a white bear popped in your mind, because of the way your mind works. When you tell your brain not to do something, it has to scan to see if the thing it should be avoiding is there. Thus, you’ll think of what you’re trying not to think of. Worriers have of paradoxical relationship with their worries because a part of them wants to stop worrying, but another part of them thinks that worrying shows them …

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An explanation of worry

By maggie

Worry is a two-part process including an uncertain question and an attempt to answer it. Whether the attempt to answer it occurs via analysis, problem-solving, distracting, or getting reassurance, the attempt to answer is always problematic because it can never “solve” an unanswerable question and it makes the original uncertainty feel more threatening.  We typically say that you have generalized anxiety if you struggle against thoughts that are ego-syntonic— meaning consistent with your sense of what is important. You have obsessive-compulsive disorder if you struggle against thoughts that are ego-dystonic— meaning inconsistent with your sense of what is important. Many anxious people have both. As an example, the person with generalized anxiety fears: “what if my child doesn’t get into college?” and, in thought and action, attempts to answer that uncertain, unanswerable question. The person with obsessive-compulsive disorder fears: “what if my child is in the freezer?” and also, in thought and action, tries to be certain about this uncertain thought. Where worrying about your child’s future seems reasonable to most people, worrying about your child being in the freezer seems “irrational” or “unreasonable” to most people, so they have an added layer of confusion, frustration, and shame about why they …

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