Friday, July 11, 2014

Questions from Readers: CBT & Mindfulness

Question: Can CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Mindfulness work together? Or do their methods oppose one another?

Answer (From Peer-Support Group Member) :

CBT and the little sister DBT & the use of mindfulness can all work together and are complementary.

From my perspective the way we think and behave originates from thoughts and behaviors which were meaningful and important at the time and may well have saved your life or kept you sane. However, NOW those thoughts and behaviors are maladaptive. It doesn't matter why. It probably doesn't matter how they started. All that matters is that you find some tools which help you learn a different way of thinking.

CBT has been helpful because I use thought maps and challenge things like catastrophic thinking and black & white thinking with evidence. I use it to enhance my ability to logically examine what happened and be self-reflective and learn my patterns.

DBT helps me with how to think more productively and practice those skills in the moment --- for instance I was having panic attacks but through daily habits of mindfulness I was able to bit by bit notice the feelings in my body and eventually learn to stop the histological reaction, suppress the hysterical breathing, and in fact take long, slow happy baby belly breathing, pause and distract long enough to identify the trigger and think  - think - get my brain to NOT go offline, and respond in a way that others don't even realize I just fought down a panic attack and am miraculously answering them with words!

CBT & DBT are two pieces of my overall toolbox. I find DBT to be the thing I so badly needed to make use of everything else. I can say that more than a year later I am still working on some very basic skills, but I am in a far better place than I have ever been before.

People would tell me what needed to be done but never HOW. DBT is the how. And frankly mindfulness was the key to making use of it all.

The idea of triggers, distorted perception, distorted thinking are all common to both CBT & DBT.

How you become aware of these things and how you identify the evidence and challenge the core belief system differs slightly, and in my book different tools are needed and whatever works for you -- use it! You may find, like me, that you can use tools from both tool boxes and they are not mutually exclusive.















Thank-you, Jeanne, for the assistance in getting this great question answered! Let's cover this material on Sunday at group. We can discuss this and we will touch bases with everyone on how their goals are coming along! I look forward to talking with everyone in a couple of days.