Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PTSD CBT Moment: So in the Present We Can Choose Our Behavior

K. is a vibrant, self-aware, incredibly interesting woman I've recently met. She's proactive and healing her PTSD through a constant evolution that includes letting go of the past and reformulating how she perceives the present. Last week, when she did not even know I'd be profiling CBT, she wrote me the following, self-reflective note. I saved it and with her permission am sharing it with you today as yet another example of how we can feel, see and encourage our own healing progression.

"Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a learning based approach to therapy incorporating cognitive and behavioral techniques." (I copied this from my text which is "Abnormal Psychology in a Changing World"- a terrific book).

CBT basically attempts to integrate therapeutic techniquies that help individuals make changes not only in their overt behavior but also in their underlying thoughts, BELIEFS, and attitudes. Thinking patterns and beliefs affect behavior; changes in these cognitions can produce desirable behavioral and emotional changes.

Cognitive behavioral therapists focus on helping clients identify and correct the maladaptive beliefs and negative, automatic thoughts that may underlie their emotional problems. So basically you monitor your thoughts and beliefs, and when a trigger comes around, you intentionally focus on calming thoughts and rational beliefs instead of the fear.

Really, this goes right along with the teachings of Abraham Hicks (Law of Attraction). I was so glad to know about this. You have to redirect your catastrophic thinking. My motivation for trying this was

1. knowing that allowing myself to get upset about something (due to my thoughts and beliefs due to the trauma) was physiologically doing damage to my body and mind (that is why I love reading anything by Robert Sapolsky- my guy from Stanford- who studies the effects of stress on our bodies and minds)

2. I wanted to see if Abraham Hicks was right about changing your "vibrational level", so that I would attract more positive experiences.

All I can say is, it is working. Laughter (I love the movie Fifty First Dates), doing an activity you love to do (painting for me - which is also relaxing), or whatever "it" is that makes you feel joy and relaxation is key. Doing Zumba is one of those things, too. My concentration levels are better, my blood pressure is down, and I am enjoying life more. Joy is SO important as well as correcting catastrophic thinking. We had to do a childhood biography last semester and analyze it for my Child Pysch. class, and believe me, with all I have been through in my life - if I can do it, anyone can.

I have been practicing this "cognitive behavioral therapy" thing for the past month or so and it has helped. Taking the Abnormal Psych class has helped me with this. Also, the Laws of Attraction have given me control. Listen to this:

Last Thursday, I was on my way to my internship, and blew a tire. When my parents came to give me a hand, my spare was flat...went to the repair shop and spent $750 getting a new set of tires (and other things the car needed). I really could have blown my top that day. But instead I decided, there was nothing I could do about it (except get stressed and angry), so I opened the windows to my car, closed my eyes, turned on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo and pretended I was in a hammock in the South Pacific. I just decided I was not "going there" and it worked very well. This was huge for me. Several months ago I would have never been able to do that.

I love when we can see ourselves progressing! Do you have a story like K's? Leave a comment or shoot me an email describing your experience.

(Photo: amaniwillett)


Amy K said...

I love this story and it's clear description of a person on the road to wellness and living in good moments, despite the stress of the moment!
I posted recently about something like it when our basement was flooding and it felt like it was THE LAST STRAW, but I found a way to cope and handle the situation with some grace and it felt good!
Check out my short post on it @ http://unavitabella.wordpress.com called "My Cup Runneth Over", if you would like to read it. It has a bit of humor in it, as well as the reality that we have to make cognitive choices to handle our stresses better as we travel along our path to wellness!
I hope you enjoy it, if you decide to read.

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