In this session, you will learn about the cognitive cycle and the CBT ABC model that explain how thoughts and feelings cause behavior. Your child and you will start the improvement process together by identifying and understanding which situations, thoughts, and feelings are linked to certain problem behavior.

What are the objectives of session 2?

Session 1 is designed to explore and address the following factors:

  • The ability to recognize thoughts and feelings linked to unpleasant situations
  • The ability to understand that behavior is driven by thoughts and feelings
  • The ability to apply the CBT ABC model
  • The ability to identify and describe your negative thoughts
  • The ability to identify and describe your problem behaviors
  • The ability to identify the sensations in your body that are linked to unpleasant situations

What is cognitive science and how can normal people use it?

Many years ago, when scientists were trying to help people who were always feeling bad and depressed, they discovered that those people all shared a common thing. They all had thoughts that were upsetting and unpleasant. The scientists worked out that negative thoughts caused these negative feelings in people. When a person finds him- or herself in a situation that scares or threatens them, they automatically have thoughts about it. Many times, people don’t even know about their automatic thoughts. It is like being on auto pilot!

Your body then wants you to do something to change the situation and make it better. So, when your mind changes your feelings and how your body feels to draw your attention that you need to do something. You may feel angry, afraid, or sad. Your heart may be racing and your hands sweating. You may have a headache or stomach pain. Maybe your face becomes red, and your muscles tense.

Under such stress, people often feel agitated, frustrated, or overwhelmed. They either feel that they have to take control, or they run away. It is a stressful experience. To try and feel better, they lash out or withdraw. I am sure you can remember situations like these. That you have felt it yourself? It is normal! Everyone does it occasionally. But, as you can imagine, when you get angry at or avoid others, they usually don’t respond well to you. They punish you, ignore you, or something equally unpleasant. This makes you feel even worse about yourself and the situation.
And, worst of it all is, next time you will probably react even more negative, and your unhappiness only grows! Fortunately, there is good news. Scientists have called the thoughts-feelings-behavior link “cognitive science” and they have developed methods that anyone can apply to break the bad cycle! They have even come up with some neat acronyms for it: CBT and ABC.

Next, we explain more about CBT and ABC.