I’ve been given Cognitive Behavioural Therapy homework in my counselling sessions including mindfulness breathing exercises. I’m gonna broadly try to explain these and the reasons they are useful.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy exercises are based on the cognitive behavioural model. Cognitive behavioural therapy is derived therapy based on this model. The model is drawn diagrammatically as a triangle consisting of thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It displays the interrelationships between these different parts of our psychology and how they effect behaviour. If we are feeling distressed we think distressed thoughts which lead to distressed behaviour and this is how we get stuck in cycles of behaviour, emotional attachment and thoughts. Here is a version of the CBT model from Sheffield.ac.uk
As you can see the model is simple yet elegant and teaches a person the interrelationship of how each component affects the other. In my homework I was given three questions as subjects of a broader question, “What would be different?” 1. “What would my thoughts be?” 2. “How would I feel?” 3. “How would I behave?”
The exercise was to think of different discomforting situations and then answer these three questions given the larger context. So for example, talking at the bus stop makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious. What would be different?
1. What would my thoughts be? This isn’t so bad, people genuinely want to talk because they feel uncomfortable in silence.
2. How would I feel? I feel secure in myself and I feel content and helpful.
3. How would I behave? I would be calm, poised and attentive.
This is a very quick exercise that I was advised to do regularly with situations I feel uncomfortable in. An additional question I was asked was “What type of social setting would I like to feel confident in?” Well, there are lots of them. I always feel anxious walking through a mall, shopping centre, I sometimes feel anxious going to the cinema, I am sure you get the point.
The other part of the exercise I was given were mindfulness breathing exercises. Now I only like one of them because it’s easy to remember. I breathe in for a count of seven and then breath out for a count of four. The whole purpose of this is to be mindful of the breath and to allow my physiology to adjust to the intake of oxygen which has a calming effect on the body and mind.
That’s all for this blog post.