We all have that little voice inside our heads that attempts to hold us back through the use of self despairing statements, whether the statements are about our looks, abilities, or the core of who we are. These statements then become part of who we are and keep us from becoming who we can be. These negative self-talk statements are worse for people who have depression or those with low self-esteem, because these statements keep the person trapped and do not allow them to move forward easily.
Replacing negative thought patterns is addressed through the use of the DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and in individual therapy. The DBT group addresses identifying negative thought patterns by introducing the idea of cognitive myths and teaching the students to challenge these myths that they tell themselves. An example of a myth that students learn to challenge is "it will kill me if he does not talk to me". A possible challenge is "I won't like it, but I will move on if he does not talk to me". Other myths include "It does not matter; I don't really care". This one is generally used to avoid sharing feelings and managing emotions. Many students challenge this one with "I really do care and this is why". Students are then taught: to identify their own myths and challenge them and then to use these challenges every time that myth comes to mind. They practice replacing that thought with the challenge.
The next step in DBT is to learn about "cheerleading statements" and to make their own statements, to give themselves encouragement and to empower themselves. These statements are particularly helpful for overcoming fears and helping the student to feel better about themselves and to build upon their strengths.
Learning to change negative thought patterns are very powerful in learning to feel better about oneself and in turn, change behaviors. Remember our thoughts are directly related to our behaviors.
Sorenson's Ranch Schoolis a coed Residential Treatment Center working with adolescents ages 12-18 since 1959. For more information about Sorenson's and our use of DBT therapy go to www.sorensonsranch.com or call Layne Bagley at 800-455-4590