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Cognitive Restructuring

A girl writes her feelings in therapyOur programs don’t just teach girls to let counselors solve their problems for them. We want to teach them the skills to figure out how to address troubling mindsets and to assess their own emotions so that they can be mentally independent when they leave our program and return to their lives. To do this, we use a method called cognitive restructuring to teach them how to handle their moods and identify solutions that keep them from overreaction on troubling emotions.

Here are the steps of cognitive restructuring that allows them to do this…

  • Calm Down

When something happens that sets off problematic emotions, the very first thing that we teach the girls is how to calm down before allowing those emotions to control their mindset. To do this, we teach breathing exercises, as well as meditative techniques.

  • Identify Triggers

Once a girl is calm, we teach them how to think through what just happen and point out the specific thing that triggered their reaction. From there, we can work on fixing the reaction and addressing the problem, objectively.

  • Identify Their Emotions

After the trigger is identified, we show them how to think through their emotions and find out exactly what they were feeling during the event, and what specific emotion was brought to the forefront. The specificity of this emotion is crucial to the other steps.

  • Note Their Thoughts

After they know how they felt, we have them write down the thoughts that they had about the situation as it was happen. This lets them see how their thoughts were a reaction of the emotion that they felt.

  • Look for Evidence

Next, they must look at the evidence for why they felt this way. In some ways, this step is justification for the emotional reaction that they had.

  • Look for Contrary Evidence

After they find evidence for why they had those feelings, they must consider the other side of the story and look for objective evidence about why what they had was an overreaction. This side must be completely contradictory.

  • Come to a Conclusion

After identifying the evidence about why they should or should not have reacted the way they did, we show them how to come to a middle ground to find emotional reactions that are appropriate for the situation, which gives them the ability to see each side of the story.

  • Reassess Their Mood

At the end of this assessment, the girls are taught to examine their moods now that they have thought everything through. Usually, the clearer view they have developed gives them a clear emotional reaction that is calmer and more appropariate.