Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATs) and Core Beliefs
Negative Automatic Thoughts ('NATs') and Core Beliefs
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is founded on the cognitive 'model', which theorises that an individual's feelings and behaviours are shaped by their perception of situations. It is not a situation itself that regulates emotion, but rather it is the way in which one interprets a situation.
Evaluation of an event is decided by quick, instantaneous thoughts concerning the event. These thoughts are called automatic thoughts, and it is quite common for these thoughts to be negative in nature. They tend to emerge unconsciously, and because of this, one most likely accepts automatic thoughts as true.
But where do negative automatic thoughts, or NATs, originate from? What makes one individual construe a situation differently from another? The answer involves what Aaron Beck refers to as 'core beliefs.'
Often beginning in childhood, individuals acquire certain beliefs about themselves, other people, and their world. These core beliefs are fundamental, and are regarded by the individual as absolute truths. Core beliefs tend to be global, rigid, and generalised, meaning they are usually unyielding and applicable to many things. NATs, however, are situation specific; and a much more apparently the result of the cognitive process.
Paul Levrant is an experienced therapist; and will be happy to explain in greater detail how CBT can assist with various behavioural difficulties. Sessions for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are available in Hertfordshire in his Radlett practice. Cognitive restructuring, also known as reframing, is a core technique of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The first undertaking in the process of reframing is self-monitoring, or learning to become more aware of your NATs. One of the tools utilised in cognitive behavioural therapy for this purpose is the daily thought record, or DTR. Also referred to by Beck as the 'Dysfunctional Thought Record', the DTR is a worksheet that assists the client in responding more effectively to his or her NATs, thus helping to decrease psychological distress.
The DTR can be seen as a strategy of personal insight for identification of NATs that arise during and separate from the therapy sessions, and for enhancement of problem-solving and emotion-regulation skills. Not only does completing the DTR serve as a method of improving one's mood through the process of cognitive restructuring, but it also serves as a means of self-reflection, which allows one to uncover habitual, maladaptive thinking processes.
While NATs are one's immediate cognitive reactions to a given event, core beliefs describe general expectations and identity. For example, if you are getting ready to speak in front of a large crowd, your NATs might be, "I know I will mess up and everyone will laugh at me," or 'if I mess up on this speech my life will be ruined;' while your core belief might reflect a deeper fear: "I'm stupid and can never do anything right!" Core beliefs influence situation evaluations, and are a major cause of preconception; however, they are not always obvious. An efficient method of uncovering them is to examine numerous incidents of NATs over time for the underlying themes and to record them. Much of this discovery work is undertaken by the client as homework which the therapist will supervise and assist the client with. If you would like further information, or to have a consultation without charge or obligation; please contact Paul Levrant who will be happy to explain in greater detail how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy may be able to assist with various behavioural and emotional difficulties. Sessions for CBT are available in his practice in Radlett in Hertfordshire.
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