Topic 2: Cognitive Theories {by 1/30}

There are three readings due this week (Beck, A. T.; Beck, J. S.; Volungis).  For this discussion, share at least two thoughts: (1) What is your understanding of Lazarus’ and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal and coping in relation to CBT?  (2) What are your initial impressions in your ability to understand and consistently apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist?   (I realize many of you do not yet have any therapy experience.  However, now is a good time to start thinking about being a CBT therapist.  Many of you will be starting your practicum this summer!)  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 1/30.  Have your two replies posted no later than 2/1.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robert Salvucci
    Jan 24, 2020 @ 21:14:49

    Hello All!

    These are a couple articles discussing psychometric scales related to problem and emotion focused coping, as well as cognitive appraisal. They both helped me understand the concepts better, I always find it useful to see constructs represented with scale items.

    Outlines 5 Problem Focused and 5 Emotion Focused Coping Approaches

    Click to access Stress-Appraisal-Measure-SAM-Peacock-Wong-1990-Paper.pdf

    Outlines 3 Primary Appraisal and 3 Secondary Appraisal Constructs


    1. Cognitive Appraisal is an incredibly important concept to understand, for our clients and for ourselves. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly evaluating and reevaluating past events, the present moment, and our concept of future events, particularly when we perceive these events as directly relevant to our well-being. The manner in which we perceive future challenges and stressful past events is a significant contributing factor to desirable outcomes like post traumatic growth and increased self-efficacy/well-being, or in the development/maintenance of various forms of psychopathology.

    Appraisal of Past Events
    Our memories aren’t stored like data on a hard drive, rather, they are constantly being re-updated and generating emotions based on the cognitive framework we have around them. In relation to past events, a strong tendency to fixate on the negative and uncontrollable elements can lead to significant distress, generate many negative automatic thoughts, and potentially lead to self-defeating core beliefs or a disturbed self-image. A perception of one’s past characterized by a series of failures and disappointments is drastically different from a perception of one’s past as a series of overcome challenges, constructed meaning, and opportunities for growth. The former contributes to a sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and low self-efficacy, whereas the latter contributes to a sense of strength, hope, and high self-efficacy. Once an event has taken place, we have significant control over the framework we place it in, how we interpret it, and how we allow memories and automatic thoughts to influence our emotions and behavior. The same is true for our perception of the future.

    Appraisal of Future Events
    Stress Appraisal related to future events is generally categorized on a spectrum of challenging-threatening. A general tendency to perceive life events as challenging rather than stressful is associated with a host of protective factors against psychopathology, as well as post traumatic growth and higher levels of well-being. Challenge appraisal is similar in some ways to self-efficacy, in that it is an appraisal of one’s capacity to overcome difficult situations and grow from them as a result. This capacity can be related to personal psychological resources or feeling that one has the social support or external resources necessary to positively engage with stressors. Threat appraisal is likely to result in avoidant behaviors, hence generating more anxiety, whereas challenge appraisal is more likely to result in approach behaviors, hence, generating feelings of competence.

    Cognitive Appraisal in CBT
    One’s tendency to ruminate about past events or perceive future situations as a threat are very closely tied to their core beliefs, and these thoughts manifest as automatic thoughts. A CBT practitioner will likely work more with appraisal of the future and identify core beliefs and automatic thoughts that generate a sense of being unable to cope with or tolerate difficult future situations. Exposure techniques in some sense are directly working on a client’s threat appraisal as applied to a specific concern or situation, with the hopes that they will perceive the situation as a challenge following intervention.

    Coping is essentially the approach that we take to managing stressful situations or situations that we feel require specific attention or cognitive resources. In some cases, people feel that they CAN’T cope or tolerate distress, which subsequently results in impulsive, potentially self-destructive behaviors. Ideally, we want to cope with difficult situations in ways that result in long term growth while mitigating self-defeating behaviors or thought processes.

    Problem Focused Coping
    Problem focused coping is generally most helpful when the stressor is indeed changeable, and we have the resources to change the environment or social dynamic. It involves generating solutions and action plans, and subsequently acting on said plans. It can be effectively thought of as the opposite of avoiding conflict or stressful situations. Problem focused coping is proactive and aimed at generating a tangible solution.

    Emotion Focused Coping
    Emotion focused coping is generally most helpful when a stressor is outside of our control or if we’re feeling too emotionally overwhelmed to utilize a problem-solving approach. It involves cognitive or behavioral change that changes our emotional state. At a cognitive level, we might look for a silver lining in an experience, tell ourselves that the event isn’t as catastrophic as we are making it, or engage in positive self – talk. At a behavioral level, we may reach out to a friend, go for a walk, or utilize breathing techniques.

    Coping in CBT
    Cognitive restructuring in itself can be thought of as a cognitive – emotional focused coping techniques. The restructuring of negative automatic thoughts and core beliefs can result in lower levels of negative emotion and stronger feelings of self-efficacy and capacity to cope. These changes are also precursors to engaging in more problem-focused coping. The more effective we become at regulating our emotions and seeing the benefit in challenging tasks, the more likely we are to pursue meaningful goals. Working with clients to set systematic goals is a form of problem focused coping. Relaxation techniques are a form of emotion focused coping, and exposure leads to lower emotional activation in stressful situations and an increased ability to engage in problem focused coping

    2. I’m very confident in my knowledge base of the prominent themes and applications of CBT, however I’m uncertain as to how it will be to navigate the implementation of these concepts with a wide variety of clients while also developing therapeutic rapport.

    In the potential realms of strengths, I’ve spent a substantial amount of time reading the literature on cognitive and behavioral change, as well as positive psychology literature related to healthy functioning. I have seen tremendous improvement in my own life applying these principles, and the relationship between cognitions, emotions, and behaviors seem very clear from my own experience. I’ve spent a lot of time discussing these concepts with like-minded individuals, and I’m very comfortable using CBT language and terminology to describe my own experiences and in conversation with others in the field. Doing substantial work in restructuring and observing my own core beliefs and automatic thoughts through journaling and mindfulness has made me very confident in how powerful the interventions in CBT are, and incredibly optimistic in their utilization. The central themes often come up when effectively working through stressful situations with my close friends, and I feel that I am developing an intuitive sense of how to approach helping other’s and myself with restructuring and goal setting embedded in personal values and incremental progression.

    In the potential realm of weaknesses, I tend to get very eager and philosophical very quickly and want to immediately begin solving problems and jump right into the core of CBT. In this state, its easy for my enthusiasm to overwhelm my rationality and active listening. I can see myself being very Ellis-esque and jumping in quickly to challenge the logic of beliefs, and becoming impatient in moments of perseverance and resistance. This may also come up in moments for psychoeducation, I can see myself having uncertainty over the appropriate depth of psychoeducation and get overly enthusiastic. I am also unsure as to how to gauge when it is appropriate to use particular techniques. I can struggle to effectively filter all of my ideas, so I may notice numerous beliefs or assumptions vocalized by a client and either want to address all of them or have trouble deciding which one to address. There is also uncertainty regarding the degree to which it is acceptable to challenge, and how to reasonably determine what is in the best interest of a client. A client may for example be focused on a particular issue or attitude, and mention something I deem to be much more problematic in passing. I can see myself finding it difficult to continue the conversation in the direction they were going if I mentally tag something else as more relevant.

    Regardless of these concerns, I’m confident overall in my capacity to grow in all of these areas and become an increasingly effective and professional CBT clinician over time. After all, that’s what this program and experience in the field is for!


    • Ashley Foster
      Jan 29, 2020 @ 17:54:15

      Hey Bobby, thank you for the links that you posted, I find them helpful for understanding in a different way than our reading did. I also find it helpful that you broke down each type of coping and appraisal. I feel that your background and knowledge of the literature will help you in the field and connecting the reading to the skills you will learn. It is natural that we all feel a little in the dark with our skills as we all just started in our journey of mastery. You bring a different approach to the field as you bring your philosophical questions and thoughts to the discussions and courses. This is a positive aspect as different thoughts of thinking will make you only more successful in the field. Great job on your second longest blog post!


    • Madison Armstrong
      Feb 01, 2020 @ 14:17:16

      Hi Bobby,
      I enjoyed reading your discussion post because you broke the topics up into short sections that are easily digestible and helped to clarify some aspects that I still found confusing. It sounds like you have a wide range of knowledge about CBT which seems to prove helpful in your experiences so far. Since learning about CBT, I have also been able to recognize core beliefs and automatic thoughts in myself, but I still struggle with restructuring them. I also find mindfulness to be a powerful intervention that I have used with myself and the children I work with when they are experiencing challenging behaviors. Therefore, I am very enthusiastic in using the CBT model and different interventions with future clients.


  2. Monica Teeven
    Jan 27, 2020 @ 10:36:27

    1. Lazarus’s and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal and CBT are more alike than coping in relation to CBT. Appraisal as stated by Lazarus and Folkman means to normally be conscious, rational, and intentional, but that some individuals might be unaware of certain basic elements of the appraisal. Before CBT was developed, Beck discussed how negative automatic thoughts were not always reported in sessions by clients, because they were unaware of these thoughts. Beck realized that when he helped clients recognize, evaluate, and alter these negative automatic thoughts, they became less depressed. This lead Beck to develop a short-term and current oriented type of therapy. This type of therapy focused on negative automatic thoughts and the use of problem solving techniques for depressed individuals. Overtime this became CBT and further research has shown now that CBT is not only used for depression, but for many other mental health disorders.

    CBT and Lazarus’s and Folkman’s coping process are entirely different. CBT states that an individual’s behaviors and emotions influence their perception of their environment/situation. The process for long-term change includes the client working on their main, global, and strict core beliefs which affect themselves, others, and the overall world. These beliefs were developed sometime in the client’s past during important events with important people. When clients are able to have thoughts that are more rational and adaptive, the individual feels better about themselves and will have fewer maladaptive behaviors. Individuals who are able to alter their own thoughts and behaviors while also developing coping and problem solving skills that are effective for them, are considered successful in therapy. Lazarus’s and Folkman’s coping process has three stages: anticipation period, impact or confrontation period, and postimpact period. When clients use these stages of coping, the individual is revealing the realities of what is actually happening to them and what options they have to do something about it. Individuals who learn that when a person lacks control of the most important aspects of a situation will learn to use strategies that will help them regulate their emotions in that situation.

    2. I believe that I understand the basic principles of CBT, but I am not very confident in applying these principles. I understand how the difference of maladaptive and adaptive functioning presents itself in the Reciprocal CBT model. I am less confident applying these principles of CBT in therapy because when I took Counseling Principles and Practice, I had a hard time using these principles in a timely manner without questioning my capability. I usually knew what I wanted to say to the client, but knowing how to say it was tough for me. With practice I believe I will be able to apply CBT principles in a timely manner without questioning my ability.


    • Jessica Costello
      Jan 28, 2020 @ 11:55:04

      Hi Monica! You have a nice summary of Lazarus and Folkman’s definitions of cognitive appraisal, coping, and how CBT attempts to bring about change in the client. However, I think Lazarus and Folkman’s coping fits better with CBT as well. In a way, replacing negative automatic thoughts or core beliefs with more rational and realistic thoughts and beliefs is a type of coping. It teaches the client how to both calm their intensely emotional state in the moment and to reduce such a situation’s negative impact in the future.

      I relate to not knowing how to word what you want to say to the client too. As we learn more about the structure of CBT sessions and get more practice, I think we will both be more confident in our skills. Good job!


    • Shelby Piekarczyk
      Jan 28, 2020 @ 15:55:57


      You have a very nice description of Lazarus’s and Folkman’s cognitive appraisal and coping strategies. You also tie in nicely how CBT works alongside these strategies. However, I feel that CBT is similar to coping in ways such as changing maladaptive automatic thoughts and replacing them with adaptive thoughts. Both CBT and Lazarus and Folkman’s strategies have the common goal of changing these maladaptive thoughts, in hopes to help the client live a more positive lifestyle.

      I agree that I have a common knowledge of the CBT principles but have doubts when actually using these principles. Counseling Principles and Practice also made me realize through groupwork that I am not yet completely confident in using these skills in a session or with a “client”. However, through the rest of this program I am hopeful we will learn and become confident in our abilities as future therapists!


  3. Shelby Piekarczyk
    Jan 27, 2020 @ 15:59:48

    1. Cognitive appraisal is the facilitator between the event that happened and how the individual responds to that event. Lazarus and Folkman discuss how cognitive appraisal requires mental activity and is strongly based on past experiences the individual has gone through. Because of this our cognitive appraisal and the decision, we decide to make will be based off past events and what may have happened in those certain situations. When considering CBT, the therapist mainly focuses on current/future cognitive distortions. CBT therapist would not indulge into past events shaping these cognitive appraisals, instead they would use the tool of cognitive restructuring, changing how the individual reacts to a situation in the present. However, CBT and cognitive appraisal coincide by trying to change these automatic thoughts that the individual is having. Whether it be past or present CBT and cognitive appraisal are looking and changing these thoughts.
    Lazarus and Folkman’s coping is mainly based upon emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping. Emotion-focused coping is when the stressor is unchangeable, and to help the individual in a situation they feel out of control in. Problem-focused coping is when the stressor is changeable within problem-focused coping the individual develops a plan to change these stressful situations.
    Within CBT the therapist and client work together to change the client’s maladaptive thoughts and behaviors within each situation. A goal of CBT is to help the client gain independence and their own strategies with each situation. Cognitive restructuring, a main component of CBT helps the clients to change automatic, maladaptive thoughts. Leading to independence and better self-regulation in the future.
    2. I believe that I understand the basic principles of CBT. However, I am not yet fully confident in my abilities to use these skills within a therapy session. When discussing these principles in class I have a clear understanding but in small group discussions using these skills it becomes more difficult. Because I have not had an extensive amount of practice within the field of CBT, I am still currently unsure of my own capabilities. But I believe with the continuation of this program, practicum, and internship I will gain the confidence in myself to use these skills within a therapy session.


    • Erin Wilbur
      Jan 27, 2020 @ 18:04:36

      I completely relate to your insecurity of using CBT skills in class and with clients. I also feel like I understand the concepts we learn and discuss in class, but when asked to apply them in role plays or small discussions, I get nervous and feel like I don’t know how to do it correctly. I’m also hoping that the experience of practicum and internship, as well as the constant advice of a supervisor, will make me more confident and build my skills!


    • Renee Gaumond
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 15:57:28

      Hi, Shelby,
      I agree with you when you say that understanding the principles is a lot easier than apply them. It’s easy to read up on information, but practicing is a different story. Plus, since we haven’t had a lot of practice, it’s reasonable to not be confident in your skills. At this point, most of what we have done is study and not a lot of practice has been done. I’m sure once we get more practice, confidence will increase once competency does. Since I was the person who did your review in counseling, I can assure you that you’ll defiantly get there some day. 🙂


  4. Erin Wilbur
    Jan 27, 2020 @ 17:59:48

    1. Cognitive appraisal is defined as a mediator between the event and the response, and involves things like judgement and discrimination. A primary appraisal is the process of evaluating how certain encounters with the environment can benefit us and in what ways. There are several different types of appraisals, including primary irrelevant or benign appraisals, those of threat, challenge and harm, and secondary appraisals that evaluate what can be done about the situation. Coping is defined as the person’s cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage demands that have been appraised as harmful or stressful to the individual. Lazarus and Folkman describe two types of coping: emotion-focused and problem-focused. Emotion-focused helps the individual regulate their emotional response to the problem, while problem-focused manages or alters the person-environment relation causing the problem. These concepts of Lazarus’ and Folkman’s relate to CBT in the form of automatic thoughts and core beliefs. A secondary appraisal is similar to the coping skills taught in CBT where the therapist helps the client identify their automatic thoughts, or what the problem is, and how these thoughts can be changed so that the individual isn’t stressed or overwhelmed anymore. This is also similar to the problem-focused coping that could be compared to the CBT approach of appraising the situation and then working to challenge and change the core beliefs so that they not longer impact the individual in the same way.
    2. I believe in my ability to understand the basic principles of CBT, but I am doubtful of my ability to consistently apply them in my practice as a therapist. I often use forms of psychoeducation with my individuals at work, because many of them struggle to understand their diagnoses, or don’t know that the emotion they’re feeling is a symptom and has a name (like paranoia). I feel confident in my ability to explain these types of things to my clients. However, I sometimes doubt my capability to ask open-ended questions and successfully observe and pinpoint core beliefs and automatic thoughts, because I don’t have much practice doing this. I do sometimes catch myself determining the core beliefs of my clients at work, like with one individual who has had repeated conversations with me about not believing that he has social skills although I see that he does. I think that I am most worried about consistently applying the skills I am learning in a productive way for my clients.


    • Jessica Costello
      Jan 28, 2020 @ 11:35:22

      Hi Erin! I agree with your understanding of cognitive appraisals, the differences between emotion-focused and problem-focused coping, and how these concepts relate to CBT. The challenging of beliefs in CBT, I think, could qualify as both emotion- and problem-focused, as it both serves to quell a client’s emotional overwhelm or stress but also gets to the root of the problem so that the client can do the same kind of mental work in future situations that are similar.

      I also relate to doubting your ability to successfully identify automatic thoughts and negative core beliefs. I think another struggle I would have with this process is not wanting to impose my perception of the situation on the client if they have a different understanding. Through class practices and practicum/internship experiences I think we’ll both be able to conquer our own doubts and have better self-efficacy! Great work.


    • Shelby Piekarczyk
      Jan 28, 2020 @ 15:49:42


      I agree that Lazarus and Folkmans concepts relate to automatic thoughts and core beliefs. Using the skills within CBT and emotional-focused / problem-focused can really help the individual when changing maladaptive automatic thoughts and core beliefs. I also agree with understanding the basic principles of CBT but being nervous to use them in real like situations. However, with practice and the continuation of learning the skills I am hopeful that we will feel confident in our skills by the end of the program. You seem to have a lot of experience with psychoeducation through work, and I am hopeful that working alongside you and my other classmates I will also learn more skills, becoming more confident!


    • Mariah Fraser
      Feb 01, 2020 @ 11:26:41

      Hi Erin,

      I agree that asking open ended questions and successfully observing and pinpointing core beliefs and automatic thoughts may be a challenge at first. But, much like our role-playing in 600, we’ll both be more comfortable with these skills as we practice more and more. Having the knowledge is very different than the application of it all! You were able to quickly pick up on the skills we used last semester, and I always liked how you were able to stay relaxed and focused (or that’s how it looked as the observer), so I don’t doubt that introducing these skills into your experience at work will come smoothly as well!


  5. Jessica Costello
    Jan 27, 2020 @ 21:31:06

    1. Cognitive appraisal is an individual’s intermediate interpretation between a stimulus or situation and his or her response. Someone appraises a situation and develops a personal meaning about its significance depending on whether they are in trouble, benefiting from something, stressed or threatened. An individual’s appraisal of a given situation influences his or her coping style, which can also vary with context. Emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping can each be effective depending on the situation.

    The idea of cognitive appraisal works nicely with CBT’s central tenet that negative automatic thoughts are responsible for negative core beliefs that lead to maladjustment and psychological disorders like depression and anxiety. By paying attention to his or her thoughts, someone can become conscious of patterns or of his or her appraisal style, and then work on modifying unhealthy patterns into healthier and adaptive coping styles.

    2. As several of our readings mentioned, the basic principles of CBT can seem overly simplistic. Of course all of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are linked and influence each other. While I feel relatively confident in my understanding of basic CBT concepts, I also think I could become overconfident and not fully be able to explain such concepts or how they work to a client who needed psychoeducation.

    Personally, I have found CBT principles useful for improving my own thinking habits and have tried to help others in my life think more rationally as well. But I definitely need more practice in conceptualizing a client’s case from a CBT perspective and explaining the role of something like negative automatic thoughts while still developing and maintaining a strong therapeutic relationship.


    • Melanie Sergel
      Jan 29, 2020 @ 21:16:03

      Hi Jess,

      You did a great job relating CBT to cognitive appraisal. I like that you point out that cognitive appraisal works well with negative automatic thoughts and how these thoughts are responsible for negative core beliefs. If and when an individual becomes aware of this then they can also become aware of how they appraise events. The individual can work on reappraising events to rid of these negative automatic thoughts. I like how you touch upon modifying unhealthy patterns and turning them into healthier and adaptive coping styles, because individuals can use their coping skills when appraising events.

      You mentioned that you found CBT principles useful for improving your own thinking habits and I have also found them useful. I have noticed myself improving my own thinking habits and understanding my behaviors, thoughts, and emotions better. I also think that I need more practice in conceptualizing a client’s case from a CBT perspective. You made a good point about becoming overconfident. If we become overconfident, we will not fully be able to explain CBT principles to our clients.


    • Monica Teeven
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 12:27:36

      Hi Jess!

      I wanted to tell you that the second paragraph of your answer to question one was written beautifully. It was easier for me to see the differences than the similarities between CBT principles and Folkman’s and Lazarus’s coping process. But when I read this paragraph, I was able to see the “big picture”. I think my issue was that I was not thinking abstractly enough. That even though the definitions and terminology may not overlap, the overall concept could. Secondly, I wanted to say that I also have found that CBT principles have helped me during difficult situations the past couple of months. I can tell I am able to regulate my emotions and thoughts more effectively than I was before learning about the CBT principles.

      Great job Jess!


    • Renee Gaumond
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 16:05:26

      Hi Jessica,
      I related to you when you said “I could become overconfident and not fully be able to explain such concepts or how they work to a client who needed psychoeducation.” Personally, I feel like I understand things, but if a client needed it, I’m not sure how I would explain things. It’s easy to know the skills and that they work, but if a client asks how they work, I think I might feel put on the spot and not know what to say. It’s also easy to get into a routine of doing the same thing in the work place that you forget the reasoning behind it. I think that loss of reason might come with overconfidence since once you start getting in the motion, things just become automatic. I’m not sure if that’s how you feel, but that’s the thought that I had while relating to your statement.


    • Taylor O'Rourke
      Jan 31, 2020 @ 19:46:16

      Hi Jess,

      I like how you mentioned it could be easy to become overly confident in using CBT skills because of their over simplicity that our readings have mentioned. We all know these concepts so well through our time here in the program as well as our undergraduate experiences, however this does not necessarily mean that we can actively and consistently use them in the field for practice purposes. I definitely agree that it can become easy to think we know many of these skills already without ever effectively using them because they often seem like common sense, however with more practice in real world situations, this is where the true confidence will come from and not this false confidence that we may experience now as beginning helpers. I think we for sure know how these concepts work on paper, and even understand their theoretical underpinnings, but actually presenting them to a client to offer advice or feedback is a whole different scenario.


    • Erin Wilbur
      Feb 01, 2020 @ 11:06:56

      Hi Jess,
      I like that you emphasized that the individual’s appraisal of a given situation can influence their coping style, because that’s an important part of coping. Being aware of our negative core beliefs or automatic thoughts through cognitive appraisal makes for much more successful treatment because we understand the process. I haven’t really attempted to use the CBT techniques we’ve been learning on myself, so it’s a good idea to try! If I understand how they work with my own thoughts, it might be easier for me to apply the concept to my clients when I start my practicum.


  6. Melanie Sergel
    Jan 28, 2020 @ 12:55:26

    1. Cognitive appraisal is the process of how an individual responds to an event. An individual evaluates the event such as judging, discriminating, and choice activity. The way an individual appraises the event is based largely on past experiences. It is important to understand cognitive appraisal because in order for individuals to have a healthy well-being they need to know how to distinguish between benign and dangerous situations. The cognitive appraisal helps us understand the variations of events and reactions among individuals that experience similar conditions. Primary and secondary appraisal identify the two main evaluative issues of appraisal, “Am I in trouble or being benefited, now or in the future, and in what way?” and “What, if anything, can be don’t about it?”. We are constantly reappraising situations, for example, something could have once been a threat but then it becomes a challenge. This occurs because there is a changed appraisal from gathering new information from the environment or an individual’s own reactions.

    Cognitive appraisal occurs without much knowledge of it actually occurring. This is like automatic thoughts. In CBT, we have a goal to improve awareness of these thoughts, which can be challenging because individuals can overlook them. A CBT therapist is going to work on enhancing self-awareness of thoughts so an individual can acknowledge cognitive appraisal. The individual is not aware that they thought in a certain way and because of their thoughts they responded to the event in a certain way. This can also relate to the individual’s core belief. The individual could acknowledge their thought and then proceed to have a strong belief that the event was threatening, when it is not, and had to act in certain way.

    2. Coping is the process of constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage demands that are viewed as physically or mentally demanding or it exceeds an individual’s resources. Coping is an important factor in the connection between stressful and adaptive/maladaptive outcomes. This could be because some individuals do not know how to cope and will act quickly without thinking, resulting in maladaptive outcomes. An example of this relation is drinking when feeling stressed.

    A CBT therapist can work on improving coping skills with the client. CBT therapists work on teaching the client to become their own therapist. A CBT therapist teaches the client how their thoughts influence their emotions and behavior. The therapist is also helping clients set goals, identify and evaluate thoughts and beliefs, and plan behavioral change. When the therapist moves into working on behavioral change, teaching the client coping skills to get through stressful or challenging events will be important so the client can react to events positively. Setting goals could be seen as a coping skill. For example, if a client gets overwhelmed and feels like there is a lot going on in their life, they can manage it by setting small goals to lower their stress. I think that with the right client, setting goals could help ease their mind and stress levels a little bit. Cognitive restructuring could also be seen as a coping skill in CBT. An individual’s thoughts can heavily impact their mood negatively. This could be a coping skill because as the therapist teaches the client how to be their own therapist they can work on and become better at identifying their automatic thoughts and changing them for the better on their own.

    3. I am more confident in understanding the basic principles of CBT than I am if I was to apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist. As I do more of the reading, I gain more knowledge of CBT and understand how and why the skills are used. There are several CBT principles that I have a confident understanding in. I feel very confident with the basic understanding of how our emotions, behaviors, and thoughts are related and interact with the environment. Having knowledge of this principle makes it easier to understand that having clients identify, evaluate, and modify their negative automatic thoughts and corresponding behaviors will help move the client to where we want their behavior goal to be. Case examples and role play scripts in the readings are very beneficial and make it easier for me to grasp the concepts better of how the principles are used in therapy. I am not that confident in applying the basic principles of CBT as a therapist because this is a new area for me and I need to practice these skills in order to gain confidence. I also learn better by being hands on and I know that with practicing these skills, in class and at practicum/internship, I would definitely become more comfortable.


  7. Jenna Nikolopoulos
    Jan 28, 2020 @ 14:20:50

    1. Lazarus’ and Folkman’s concept of cognitive appraisal is described as a mediator between an event an individual has experienced and his/her response to that event. One’s appraisal of a situation usually requires some sort of judgment and is based largely on experiences one has encountered in the past. There are two different kinds of appraisals: primary and secondary. Primary appraisals can be seen as a way to determine whether certain experiences, and in what ways, are beneficial to us and apply to not only thinking about the present, but also the future. The different types of primary appraisals are irrelevant, benign-positive, and stressful (e.g., harm/loss, threat, or challenge). Secondary appraisals evaluate if there is anything that can be done about the situation an individual is experiencing. This concept relates to CBT through the concept of automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts are the thoughts individuals have that appear unconsciously. They are thoughts that occur in response to an action or event and don’t require any formal thinking from the individual. Primary appraisals can resemble automatic thoughts as they are a response to how one evaluates his/her environment and occur unconsciously. In CBT, clinicians assist their clients in identifying, evaluating, and modifying their negative automatic thoughts to help relieve the clients’ of their distress by changing the way they think to a more adaptive manner. Secondary appraisals resemble what CBT clinicians do to help with an individual’s automatic thoughts as they evaluate to see if anything can be done to overcome or prevent harm from a threat and/or improve the prospects for benefit depending on the response from one’s primary appraisal of a situation.

    Coping is described as the process of one’s constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to successfully handle certain demands (either internal or external) that are seen as challenging to the individual or surpasses an individual’s resources. How one copes with stressful situations is important as it plays a major part determining if the outcome will be adaptive or maladaptive to the individual. There is emotion-focused coping, which helps one regulate his/her emotional responses to a problem and there is problem-focused coping, which helps one manage or alter the trouble person-environment connection that it causing the problem. Coping relates to CBT as clinicians teach their clients different coping skills to help them gain more adaptive ways of handling certain situations and to allow them to manage these situations, or similar ones, on their own in the future. By assessing a client’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, the clinician can work together with the client to educate him/her about the connection these three factors have and how that plays a part in what they are experiencing. Then once the client understands how his/her own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are interrelated, the clinician can teach the client how to effectively manage them on his/her own.

    2. I believe I am confident in my ability to understand the basic principles of CBT, but I’m not as confident in my ability to actually apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist. I feel I understand the readings and am gaining more knowledge through them about the different techniques used in CBT and am understanding the reasons behind these skills, however, I’m not too confident in being able to use these skills with clients just yet. Reading the case examples in the books are helpful and engaging in role-plays last semester in Counseling Principles and Practice were beneficial as I feel it allowed me to start using basic counseling skills. I believe that these skills will only improve with practice and feel that once I start my practicum/internship that the continuous use of CBT principles will not only allow me to strengthen my abilities in using these principles effectively, but also give me more confidence in applying them to practice. Though I am unsure of my abilities now, I feel that they will improve in the future.


    • Monica Teeven
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 12:40:48

      Hi Jenna!
      I wanted to say that I liked how you related primary appraisals with automatic thoughts and how secondary appraisals resemble what CBT clinicians do to help clients with their automatic thoughts. I did not initially see the resemblance when I was reading this week’s readings, but I can clearly see the connections now after reading your post.
      I also wanted to say that I agree with you, that in Counseling Principles and Practice, the case examples in the book really helped me to see when and which skills would be beneficial to be used in the session. When we were learning some of the skills in class, I had a hard time of knowing how to word a statement or question. In addition, remembering which words or phrases to avoid can be tricky in the beginning since some of these phrases are used a lot in everyday life conversations. Having examples of how these skills could be used in a therapy session helped me to understand the skills as a whole and to not see each skill as its own entity.
      Great job Jenna!


    • Robert Salvucci
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 12:45:54

      Hey Jenna!

      I found it interesting how you mentioned that primary appraisals tend to resemble automatic thoughts, and that our judgment of a situation usually occurs unconsciously. This is important to grasp in working with clients and observing our own reactions. It was also clever to point out that a lot of CBT work is essentially working with secondary appraisal and identifying what clients can do to effectively adapt to a stressor.

      In terms of applying CBT concepts into practice, I also feel hesitation and uncertainty. As you said, the more we understand the theory and practice the application in our internships, the more confident we’ll become!


  8. Renee Gaumond
    Jan 28, 2020 @ 20:50:00

    (1) What is your understanding of Lazarus’ and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal and coping in relation to CBT?
    What I think Lazarus’s and Folman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal is that it’s like a function of automatic thinking before an interpretation of an event. Cognitive appraisal is the process that happens between an event and a response and it’s what triggers the response. It’s a mental activity that is based on past experiences. It is the judgement people make to decide what their initial response to a stimuli is. This idea is important to CBT because CBT attempts to change those automatic thoughts in order to improve behavior. Cognitive appraisals are automatic thoughts and through understanding how individuals make cognitive appraisals will allow them to attempt to change them. Beck noted that negative automatic thoughts were not being addressed in therapy and from that observation be developed CBT. Beck found that when these negative automatic thoughts were being addressed and changed in therapy, clients’ depression improved.
    Coping is a person’s way of handling stimulus through changing cognitions and behavioral effort. Cognitive appraisal has to occur before coping. A cognitive appraisal has to be made that perceives an event as stressful or unlikeable in order for a coping process to begin. Coping is then used as a form of dealing with the undesireable interpretation of the event. Coping is a major factor of how stressful event can translate into adaptive or maladaptive behaviors. Two major types of coping are emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping. Emotion-focused coping is coping relating to regulating emotional responses to stimulus that is unchangeable and problem-focused coping is coping related to tackling the troubling a changeable event. This is relevant to CBT because CBT focuses on changing automatic cognitions in order to improve behavior and since coping is a technique that alleviates stress, CBT can use coping skills in order to target negative automatic thoughts and helps clients find better ways to cope with them in adaptive ways. Identifying maladaptive emotion-focused coping skills is one way to recognize destructive ways thoughts lead to negative emotions. This can lead into finding problem-focused coping skills that will aid the client in changing their cognitions in a way that is more adaptive than maladaptive.

    (2) What are your initial impressions in your ability to understand and consistently apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist?
    I feel like my understanding of the principles of CBT is somewhat strong, though I feel like I need more time to let it full sink in. Understanding is a lot easier than applying the principles though. I’m unsure how well I will be able to do it at first, but I have confidence that I will be able to do it with in time. I recognize that I have a lot of areas of growth that I need to work on and I find it difficult to tackle all of them at once. Also, at the same time, I’m still learning about CBT has to offer and once I start learning more about it, I will gain more confidence in myself to be able to apply it.
    I think I will be good at establishing a therapeutic relationship since at my current work place, all my clients/students have a strong connection with me already. I do inpatient ABA therapy with 7 adolescent and young adult males. My supervisor says that there’s a softness to me that must attract the students. Some of my students even call me “mommy” due to the type of rapport I tend to have with them.
    One thing about CBT that I might not do well with is the idea that CBT focused on current events with not a lot of interest in past events. This might be hard for me because I’m the type of person who loves an origin story. I love making connections of past events with how they are affecting current events. Though, I do think this fascination is due to my interest in stories and characters. Whereas, in a lot of stories, characters would have tragic backstories that shed light on why they do the things they do. Growing up, that’s the type of stories and connections I love indulging in and it might be difficult for me to put that curiosity aside and focus on clients’ current problems.
    I find myself also wondering about how my students grew up and how that might affect their development of maladaptive behaviors, but knowing those things hasn’t affected the way I treat my clients. The most it does is allow me to have a greater understanding of the student and empathize with him, but at the end of the day, it has no effect on the treatment that I am giving them currently.


    • Jenna Nikolopoulos
      Jan 29, 2020 @ 12:58:04

      Hi Renee!

      I completely relate to how you feel regarding applying the CBT principles to practice. Even though I have learned a good amount about these skills and have a good understanding of them so far, I know there is still a lot of growing that I need to do in order for my skills to be where they need to be. I also feel like it’s going to be difficult trying to remember each skill and how to use them properly since practicing them in class is different from actually using them in real situations.

      I also love an origin story! I love learning about people’s pasts and hearing about how they got to where they are today. I feel like these stories really put the person into perspective and gives you a better understanding of who the person is in his/her entirety. Because CBT is focused on clients’ current situations, I’ll have to remind myself that wanting to learn about clients’ pasts won’t help their treatment, but will just satisfy my curiosity; and as future clinicians, we’re there to help clients not ourselves.


    • Melanie Sergel
      Jan 29, 2020 @ 22:10:29

      Hi Renee,
      I agree with understanding the basic principles of CBT and I am also unsure how I will feel towards applying these techniques because you are right, understanding is a lot easier than actually applying the principles. I also can relate about how it really needs to sink in, especially before I apply them. It’s awesome that you have experience working clients and building a therapeutic relationship. I also feel that I am capable of forming a good therapeutic relationship because of my work experience. I completely agree with you about having a hard time focusing on current events because I feel this way too. I work with kids and after building a therapeutic relationship with them a lot of times they will sit down with me and tell me all about how they ended up where they are. After hearing some of these stories it makes it hard to know that we have to focus on the present because you can learn a lot about a person from their past experiences, especially for children.


  9. Ashley Foster
    Jan 29, 2020 @ 10:06:26

    1. Lazarus’ and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal just like the relation of coping to CBT, is different for every individual. While the process of appraising or coping, the individual’s experiences and environment weighs in on individual differences. Cognitive appraisal is an informal way of making discriminations in judgements based on past experiences by implications. There are many different meanings for this concept as it is not just one solitary action used for one situation. This process though is meant to evaluate situations, thought, and feeling, and bring meaning or significance.

    There are three kinds of primary appraisals; irrelevant, benign-positive, and stressful. An irrelevant appraisal is one that holds meaning when present but eventually fades and hold no significance. A benign-positive appraisal is one that the outcome of the presence is positive or bring pleasure to the individual by character. Finally, a stressful appraisal is one that the outcome of the presence is taken as a harm, loss, threat, or challenge. This is a negative appraisal that brings negative thoughts and feelings. If there is no investment made within the individual in the commitment of the appraisal, nothing will be lost or gained. Secondary appraisal goes beyond identifying and categorizing the stimulus as they are more complex process that examines how they individual should cope.

    Coping is the constantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage specific external and/or internal demands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding the recourses of the person. Coping and appraising go hand and hand in the process of dealing with these stimulus and situations that we are given. We first appraise what is going on, complexly analyze what is need, and decipher what is needed to cope with the external and/or internal demands making Lazarus’ and Folkman’s, and CBT one in the same or an intertwined process.

    2. My initial impression in my ability to understand and consistently apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist is subpar. I have been working with clients/ patients for a decent amount of time, and I’m sure some of what I have been utilizing relates to CBT, but it is still unclear at this time. I worry that as a beginning therapist, not having a solid understanding of it now, I will not be able to make it in this field at times. Then that goes into the rabbit hole that my anxiety brings me down that can I make it through this program if I don’t have the understanding of the principles down pat. I believe once I get them down, I should be fine with practice with the application but it’s getting through this stage of understanding and learning first.


    • Taylor O'Rourke
      Jan 31, 2020 @ 19:54:53

      Hi Ashley,

      I can definitely relate to the anxieties you feel surrounding your ability to use these skills and become an effective therapist in this field! I think that coming from your background of experience working in a hospital setting, it might differ from an outpatient program or something like private practice. I think your extensive experience will only improve upon your skills we are learning in this program, and you will already be a step ahead when it comes to practicum and internship! I think that the understanding phase can be even more difficult than the application phase, as you referred to. Once we are able to make good clinical judgments and use the skills we have learned in depth in classes with our clients, I think all of our confidence levels will boost significantly. It can be very difficult to feel comfortable and confident enough to use skills right away, even in role play scenarios. With time, you will for sure develop these skills and become a great therapist! Hang in there 🙂


    • Mariah Fraser
      Feb 01, 2020 @ 11:25:54

      Hi Ashley,
      I can relate to your post as well, in regards to feeling unsure of skillset. Luckily, you’re not the only one who experiences this feeling and those thoughts, which I hope makes you feel a little better. I remind myself when I’m feeling extremely doubtful that we’re all learning together, and if any of us actually knew what we were doing and had it all figured out, we’d already have our degree. Hopefully through role playing we’ll both begin to feel better with some practice. From reading your response to the first question, you understand the material well, and no one expects us to be experts!


  10. Madison Armstrong
    Jan 29, 2020 @ 21:23:12

    (1) What is your understanding of Lazarus’ and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal and coping in relation to CBT?

    Lazarus’ and Folkman’s cognitive appraisal is a person’s assessment of how a situation will affect them and then responds based on their interpretation. The assessment and response of this cognitive appraisal are based fundamentally on past events in an individual’s life. Cognitive appraisal is necessary because we need to be able to distinguish between situations that are nonthreatening and ones that could potentially be dangerous. There are large differences in the way people interpret and react to different events. During the primary appraisal process, the individual would determine what level of threat the event provokes. Doing this they would determine if this is nonharmful, if it has potential to benefit their wellbeing or if it could be dangerous. During the secondary appraisal the individual decides what can be done to prevent or overcome this situation. Then follows reappraisal which follows the same process of primary appraisal. In CBT the cognitive triad could play a role in the cognitive appraisal process. If one has negative automatic thoughts about themselves, the world and their future than their cognitive appraisals have the possibility to be negative and lead to a stressful primary appraisal. This results in an impact on their behaviors and emotions (i.e. cognitive triangle).

    Coping according to Lazarus and Folkman is cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage situations that we appraised as challenging. Coping relates to CBT because a goal of CBT it to help change maladaptive thoughts, emotions and behaviors into more adaptive ones. Using both emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping we can develop action plans for what to do in situations that stir a stress response in the client resulting in a behavior, thought or emotional change. For example, If I had a client who came in experiencing unbearable anxiety, an emotion-focused coping strategy they could use is meditating. When feeling anxious the client would change their behavior by meditating, and temporarily clear their thoughts and restore their emotional state.

    (2) What are your initial impressions in your ability to understand and consistently apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist? (I realize many of you do not yet have any therapy experience. However, now is a good time to start thinking about being a CBT therapist. Many of you will be starting your practicum this summer!)

    I feel as though I have a good understanding of CBT principles of what we have learned thus far in class and that I will be able to effectively understand future lessons about CBT. CBT is clear in the sense that there is theory behind the therapy. Some other forms of therapy appear to be a far stretch but I would feel very comfortable using CBT skills with a client knowing that it has a scientific backbone. Since learning more about CBT, I find myself analyzing my own automatic thoughts and core beliefs. I can envision how my thoughts influence both my behavior and emotions and vice versa. Also, I can pinpoint these thoughts and beliefs in others when communicating with close friends. However, I lack confidence in using these skills and communicating my thoughts with a client or friend. I have a difficult time in role play situations and find myself overanalyzing what I want to communicate to the client. I also feel as though I have not learned or acquired the necessary tools yet to apply these principles to a session with client. I am hopeful that through this program and this class, practicum and internship I will develop more skills and techniques that will increase my confidence using CBT in practice.


    • Robert Salvucci
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 12:31:56

      Hi Maddie!

      It was insightful bringing the cognitive triad into the concept of cognitive appraisal. You mentioned how negative automatic thoughts and core beliefs about ourselves can translate into perceiving things as a threat, which is important to analyze. I also liked how you highlighted the necessity of appraising events to determine if we are safe or not.

      I definitely tend to over analyze in role play situations as well, the role of a therapist is very new and doesn’t yet seem natural. Many of us seem to unsure of how to apply CBT techniques into practice, which is to be expected as we have little or no formal experience.


    • Jenna Nikolopoulos
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 14:49:21

      Hi Maddie!

      I also liked how you connected the concepts of cognitive appraisal and the cognitive triad. When you think about it, negative automatic thoughts can be very impactful on people when making appraisals because, like you said, if one has a negative view of themselves, the world, and the future, then it’s very likely that the majority of appraisals he/she makes within his/her environments are going to be negative, which will also influence his/her following emotions and behaviors. This is definitely something that clinicians should think about when evaluating the kinds of appraisals their clients make.

      Also, s someone who overanalyzes things too much, I completely agree with your thought regarding overanalyzing what you want to communicate with the client. I too sometimes have the worry that I’ll overthink what the client says or I’ll have a hard time responding to what they said because I’m thinking too much about what I want to say and if it’s the right thing. But, like you said, I think more time within the program, class, and in practicum/internship will help us feel more confident in our abilities as future counselors!


  11. Tim Keir
    Jan 30, 2020 @ 00:15:29

    1. What is Lazarus’ and Folkman’s idea of cognitive appraisal and coping in relation to CBT?

    Cognitive appraisal is the mental act of making value judgments on the perceived world around us. It is a complex evaluation that occurs near spontaneously and continuously throughout one’s experiences. From simple sensations like deciphering what that bumping noise was behind you and in fact ensuring it was not a spooky ghost; to processing that the dude walking towards you on the sidewalk is likely not a threat and simply a fellow pedestrian. Speedy and accurate cognitive appraisals allow the adaptive person to properly navigate whatever environment they find themselves in, minimizing potential harm and maximizing potential benefit.

    There are three forms of primary appraisals: irrelevant stimuli, determined to have no impact on the individual; benign-positive stimuli, which have the potential to produce positive results for the individual if approached properly; and of course, stressful stimuli. These negative stimuli can be further broken down into things that may cause harm, things that have already harmed the individual, or challenges that need to be overcome. Of course a single event can have multiple appraisals. For example, a boxer before a match could appraise both harm and a challenge in their upcoming match.

    When we have determined that some danger or opportunity is approaching, our secondary appraisal kicks in. We ask ourselves the simple question: what – if anything – can be done? Obviously, determining that nothing can be done is guaranteed to increase the distress of the person in such a dire situation. For most situations, however, a person is likely to come up with several ideas of what to do to cope with the upcoming dilemma. These ideas are not only formulated, but internally gauged for their expected outcomes and the individual’s efficacy in performing the action. This appraisal process does not occur once; instead, it repeats every time new information is gained and needs to be reassessed.

    The comparisons to CBT are quite clear. In the same way that an adaptive individual is able to successfully identify the stimuli in their environment, the maladaptive individual does not. Incorrect identification of threats, or mischaracterizing the nature of a threat, can cause excessive anxiety and fear in an individual’s daily functioning. On the opposite end, individuals who have difficulty in correctly spotting harmful stimuli or even see them as benign-positive can equally suffer from their mistake. These errors in appraisal can venture from phobias to depression, as the negative cognitive triad represents a person who is improperly appraising their self, world and future as stressful events they can do nothing to change. Thus, appraisal can be a useful tool for understanding the link between an event and an individual’s reaction to it. CBT then provides the necessary skill to adapt the appraisal process to better suit the individual to their environment.

    2. What are your initial impressions in your ability to understand and consistently apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist?

    The principles of CBT are deceptively simple when you read and learn about them. I personally enjoy learning the different theories about the inner workings of thoughts, applied in a practical way to people’s behaviors and emotions. I feel my own insight expanding towards my own actions and thoughts, and feel an excitement to spread that awareness to others.

    Yet I have worked with a few individuals who would more than likely struggle with many aspects of CBT. I foresee it being difficult to keep clients sufficiently engaged in treatment to be making progress. I can see the process of insight coming slowly to others. As for myself, I feel that I will still need some advice in learning how to teach the concepts of CBT in a way that is approachable to anyone. I am confident I could explore metacognition with an adult, but would likely have to become far more creative with a child. None of these potential obstacles are insurmountable, and more than anything I am itching to gain more knowledge so as to be fully comfortable presenting these ideas to others.


    • Ashley Foster
      Jan 30, 2020 @ 10:58:02

      Hey Tim, I like how you brought to light how maybe CBT isn’t for every client. I worked with my kiddos with autism spectrum and developmental delays for a long time and I agree some aspects of CBT would not work for them. On the other side, CBT is so multifunctional that we can take certain aspects of CBT and work it into a plan like psychoeducation or using relaxation to calm our bodies. They may not have that “ah-ha” moment of insight, but we can use action for these individuals. I can relate to learning how to teach the concepts of CBT as well. I do believe though in time and the farther we go into this program we’ll be great in the end of our program. Great job with the post!


  12. Taylor O'Rourke
    Jan 30, 2020 @ 11:34:05

    1. What is your understanding of Lazarus’ and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal and coping in relation to CBT?

    Lazarus’ and Folkman’s conceptualization of cognitive appraisal and coping
    involves cognitive appraisal as a mediator between an event that occurs and an
    individual’s response. Cognitive appraisal can be broken down into primary appraisal, secondary appraisal, and reappraisal. Primary appraisal is that initial “uh oh” moment a person experiences. This can be determined to be irrelevant (person does not care), benign-positive (neutral feeling of determining if the person can get something out of the situation), or stressful. The stressful appraisal can be broken down further into harm/loss (something has already happened), threat (nothing has happened yet), and challenge (preparing for something that a person could grow from). The aforementioned categories of appraisal are not mutually exclusive; they can co-occur. For example, a stressful-harm/loss situation could be present but a threat also occurs as a result from the ripple effects of the loss. A stressful event can evolve from one thing to another, so these events may occur on a continuum. Different from primary appraisal, secondary appraisal is more of a segue into coping. This appraisal helps with the determination of if a person is able
    to cope with an event that has happened. Lastly, reappraisal is a change that occurs after an earlier appraisal as a result of environmental stimuli.

    There are three important pieces to coping: process oriented, contextual, and
    adaptive. The purpose of coping is to manage external (or internal) stressors a person experiences that are taxing to their well-being and/or resources. Process oriented coping can be defined as what the person actually does when in the stressful situation. Contextual coping is the consideration of available resources related to the stress and the appraisal of what can be done. Lastly, adaptive coping is how coping changes from one form to another depending on the situation the person is in and their overall relationship with the environment. There is also emotion-focused coping and problem-focused coping. In emotion-focused coping, the stressor is usually thought to not be able to be changed so the person focuses on regulating their own emotional response. This is different from problem-focused coping when a person focuses on changing the circumstance that is causing them distress. Normally, the stressor is thought of as changeable in this situation so any change strategies are either directed at the environment or the person themselves. Typically, the latter form of coping is seen as more effective in the long-term.

    Both cognitive reappraisal and coping relate significantly to CBT because they share many of the same concepts and ideas. CBT focuses on a client’s ability to formulate their cognitions and problems, much like how cognitive appraisals work. Depending on the event a client is going through, this will change how they appraise the situation which will thus affect the outcome/reaction. This is exactly what CBT stresses as important for therapeutic change. CBT is also largely problem focused and goal oriented, which relates to coping strategies. With problem-focused coping, the client determines the situation to be one that is changeable, so they tackle the problem head on to make necessary changes to eliminate distress. This aligns with this CBT principle because the therapist cannot change anything for the client, nor will things change on their own so it is the client’s duty to make those adaptive changes.

    2. What are your initial impressions in your ability to understand and consistently apply the basic principles of CBT as a therapist?

    When learning about the basic principles of CBT in a classroom setting, I believe
    they come across quite simply and with a lot of common sense underlying them. Concepts like forming sound therapeutic alliances with clients and encouraging active participation and collaboration seem like they are very easy to attain. Formulating goals with a client and using psychoeducation to promote self-efficacy are important in CBT as well, because the end goal is for the client to be their own therapist knowing that CBT is a time-limited approach. I have quickly learned that CBT is a model that my own values match up with well and thus is a treatment that I will pursue in my future career. However, I have also quickly learned that actually applying these principles to clients (or role plays) in the real world is not as simple as it seems on paper in a textbook or coming from a professor in a lecture.

    Although I have not yet had any field experience with providing therapy, I am basing my feelings and observations off of role plays conducted in class. I have noticed that my ability to apply the basic principles of CBT has improved greatly from the beginning of this program to where I am now, preparing to begin practicum this summer. I believe that I do understand the basic principles of CBT as a therapist, however where my struggles lie are consistently applying them in actual practice. I am able to form a strong therapeutic alliance with the client and do emphasize the collaborative piece by not giving too much advice and allowing the client to do most of the work and talking during the session. The focus is always on the problem at hand, specifically tackling one at a time if there are more than one present. I feel confident with my ability to stay in the present moment without letting the client focus too much on the past and how that may relate. For me, I want to work on building a consistent structure in a session and having more fluidity for talking about topics with a client. Also, I believe with continuous practice that I will gain the ability to consistently and effectively allow clients to come to their own conclusions about their dysfunctional cognitions and reactions. Overall, I believe with time I will be able to call myself a more confident therapist in my abilities with clients, and am hoping that practicum and internship will allow for that.


    • Madison Armstrong
      Feb 01, 2020 @ 13:58:52

      Hi Taylor,
      I agree with you that CBT is a model that aligns closely with my values and it is a model that I will continue to use throughout my future in this field. I am excited to learn more about CBT and learning to apply this knowledge to sessions with clients. From doing role plays with you in a previous class, I can attest that you have a solid foundation on building a therapeutic relationship with clients. Like you, I also believe that with more time and practice I will be able to gain more confidence in practicing CBT.


    • Tim Keir
      Feb 01, 2020 @ 21:07:43

      Hey Taylor!

      This is a great summary of cognitive appraisal! You’ve managed to capture all of the important aspects and details of the concept into a tight package. My only comment is that your description of secondary appraisal only mentions coping as a response, and not necessarily behaviors that could eliminate the threat. Other than that, I thought your descriptions of the different aspects was illuminating!

      I can attest to the feeling that CBT is common sense when talking about it, and am equally intimidated by the thought of actually putting it to practice. But we’ve already improved so much in the short time we’ve been here, and we will continue to grow to match the challenges before us! Get it, challenge? Like in cognitive appraisal? Gosh I’m hilarious


  13. Mariah Fraser
    Jan 30, 2020 @ 22:03:23

    1. A cognitive appraisal is described as a personal interpretation of an event, leading the individual to determine how the external stimuli influences them, based on their past experiences. A primary appraisal is an assessment of whether the event is a threat or opportunity. There are a few different types of primary appraisals: irrelevant, benign-positive, harm/loss, threat, or challenge. Irrelevant is when the person has nothing to gain or lose as a result of the event. Benign-positive is when the event positively impacts the person through enhancing their well-being and brings about pleasurable emotions. Harm/loss happens when there has already been damage sustained to the individual. Threat is anticipated harm or loss in addition to future negative implications. Challenge occurs when there is the potential for growth or gain that is characterized by pleasurable emotions. A secondary appraisal is an evaluative process that takes into account which coping options are available, their likelihood to be effective, and the likelihood that the individual will be able to apply that strategy. In more simple terms, the person determines if there is anything to be done to overcome or prevent the anticipated harm. A reappraisal is a changed appraisal that is based on new information gathered from the environment. Therefore, it’s just another appraisal from the same event, just modified. Coping is one’s cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage personal or interpersonal problems as a way to minimize or tolerate stress and maladaptive outcomes such as depression. Emotion-focused and problem-focused coping are two forms. Emotion-focused coping is directed at regulating emotional response to the problem, and is typically used when nothing can be done to modify the conditions. Strategies that are used include avoidance, minimization, distancing, selective attention, and positive comparisons. Problem-focused coping is directed at managing the problem causing the distress, so is therefore applied only when the situation is amenable to change.

    In CBT, the therapist is likely to focus much less on past experiences that influence a cognitive appraisal, and more likely to focus on the here-and-now by using cognitive restructuring to modify cognitions and behaviors in the present. More generalized, both aim to do the same thing, which is change what the individual is thinking, they just have different strategies of doing so. Looking at emotion-focused and problem-focused coping, in CBT a therapist may utilize relaxation techniques as a way to help the individual minimize, distance, or pay selective attention to the event. CBT’s form of problem-focused coping would be to collaboratively set goals and make an action plan for the individual as a way to manage the event.

    2. Although I understand the material as it’s discussed in class, much like my peers, I’m not overly confident in the application of skills in a therapy session. Knowing the material is much different than applying it in a real-life situation in an appropriate manner. I know that gaining experience through practicum and internship will change the way I feel about my abilities to be effective, as I will continue to make mistakes and learn from them.


  14. Tim Keir
    Feb 01, 2020 @ 21:15:42

    Hey Mariah!

    I appreciate your connection of cognitive appraisals to coping skills like relaxation techniques. Hopefully we will also be able to give clients the ability to externally cope with their problems, as well as internally.

    You’re right on the money about not feeling super comfortable with practicing CBT quite yet! Though this class does seem like it’ll help with that fear quite a bit. I am confident that despite our current fears, we will be prepared to apply these skills by the time we begin our internships.


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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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