Topic 7: Core Beliefs {by 3/17}

[Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-15: Core Beliefs – Identifying – Downward-Arrow Technique. (1) How was the downward-arrow technique effective in leading to the client’s core belief based on his negative automatic thought and considering his background? (2) Based on the client’s core belief and what you know about his negative automatic thoughts, what modification technique(s) would be the most appropriate?

 

[Core Beliefs] – Complete the Downward-Arrow Technique on yourself (if you want, you can start with your negative automatic thought from your NATR).  Answer the following (you can be brief): (1) Even though you probably already knew what core belief you were working towards (admittedly, this can be an awkward technique to do on yourself), did you have any emotional or cognitive reaction afterwards? (2) Was there any particular question or approach that you found more helpful (or less helpful) than others?

 

Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 3/17.  Have your two replies posted no later than 3/19.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Victoria Cestodio
    Mar 14, 2022 @ 12:27:57

    The downward arrow technique was effective and helpful because we learned one of Mark’s core beliefs and one that troubles him a lot is that people do not like him, or he is not liked in general. This core belief very much goes back to some of his negative automatic thoughts. We see his negative automatic thoughts come out in an array of situations, however the Jeff situation was important to Mark, and his negative thought about the interaction was led by his core belief that no one likes him and no one would want to be around him. Therefore identifying this core belief makes us understand his negative thoughts much clearer which will lead to better therapeutic outcomes. The modification techniques I would recommend that would be the most helpful in regards to his core beliefs would one be asking him what are the advantages and disadvantages of the core belief, examining how this is helpful in his day to day life and examine the ways this could have caused him pain or harm in the past. Also, another technique I think would be appropriate would be viewing the core beliefs on a continuum. This would be helpful because instead of Mark trying to change his core belief to “everyone likes me”, make it not as extreme, such as saying “people do like me, people do like spending time with me”. Going from ‘no one likes me’ to ‘everyone likes me’ isn’t realistic and isn’t helpful for the client because that is not necessarily true either.

    When doing this technique on myself, the emotional and cognitive response I had was more shock. I guess I did not expect to realize what I did, and it made me start thinking where this belief came from, and if it was one specific thing that has happened to me or several occurrences throughout my life. It is interesting and kind of terrifying seeing how past events throughout your development can shape the way your brain literally works and interprets things. An approach that I found more helpful was continuing to ask myself the meaning of that thought such as ‘if it’s true, why does it matter’,’ what’s so bad about this thought’. This helped me delve deeper into the core belief I feel. I also liked processing the core belief and think of times it may have been beneficial or hurtful to me.

    Reply

    • Vanessa Nichols
      Mar 15, 2022 @ 12:21:17

      Hi Victoria,
      Great post this week!
      I totally agree with you that Mark discovering this core belief is extremely beneficial for therapeutic outcomes because this core belief affects most of the negative core beliefs that are distressing for Mark. I really like this technique because it allowed gentle challenge that I think mark really needed to dive a little deeper past individual experiences to a more generalized statement. I think getting over that hurled is critical for his growth in therapy.
      I also thought it would be beneficial for Mark to see the advantages and disadvantages of this core belief. I feel like this would be so helpful for Mark because I think he realizes this affects him greatly, but I don’t know if he is actually aware of how much this affects him in all aspects of life.
      I also felt some shock when doing the downward arrow technique because I just didn’t realize how blown out of proportion my thoughts can get, but they definitely can be a little catastrophizing. I was also really helped by the ” if it is so bad, what is the worst part” it just helped me dive deeper.

      Reply

    • Will Roche
      Mar 16, 2022 @ 11:15:48

      Victoria,

      I think the modification techniques you suggested would be great methods in helping Mark either cope with the reality of the situation or work to diminish this core belief he has. In the video, Dr. V gets into what you’re saying a little bit. Dr. V asks Mark something like “What’s the worst that can happen?” and tries to normalize the situation instead of catastrophizing it for Mark. I think this is important because if Mark can put aside his strong negative emotions and think clearly about this, I think it would help him cope better with the situation. Also testing out the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages are important too. If there are advantages, that’s great for Mark. If there are disadvantages, it helps Dr. V recognize what these are and then focus on those disadvantages and find ways to deal with those healthily and effectively. Great insight!

      Reply

    • Lauren Pereira
      Mar 16, 2022 @ 18:06:55

      Victoria,

      It was definitely beneficial to use the downward arrow technique with Mark because it taught more about his core beliefs and how he explores his thoughts and beliefs in his everyday life. Specifically focusing on the situation he had with Jeff, it was noticeable to see how Mark looks down on himself and how his negative thought process begins to take over. A technique I like that you brought up was focusing on both advantages and disadvantages because it is important to take the bad with the good because it gives a different perspective of things. I also agree that having more realistic thoughts will be more beneficial for Mark.
      When doing the downward arrow technique on myself, I was also shocked at my results. I think it may be a common reaction for many people because it can be hard to face reality and realize how you truly think and feel at times. It can be hard to accept the fact that you may need to modify some of your core beliefs but it is the first step in the right direction to find more positive automatic thoughts and processes within yourself. Great post!

      Reply

    • Tressa Novack
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 12:26:49

      Hi Victoria,
      Great post. I like your idea of looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the core belief. That is definitely a good way to point out how the core belief has been causing him harm, even if there may have been some benefits. I also picked the viewing the core belief on a continuum modification technique as well! I think it helps Mark put the core belief into perspective and can help him see how he compares to someone who actually may not be well liked at all. The other modification technique that I suggested was having Mark look at the evidence of the core belief. We already know that there is some evidence against Mark’s core belief and it would be good for him to remind himself that there are many people who like him, including Jeff. Also you make good points about using the downward arrow technique on yourself. I did not feel shock, because of prior therapeutic experiences I knew what core belief I was working with, but it can definitely feel weird to examine the things we think about ourselves.
      Tressa

      Reply

  2. Lauren Pereira
    Mar 14, 2022 @ 14:36:39

    The downward-arrow technique has been effective in helping lead Mark to determine his core beliefs. These forms of questioning has allowed Mark to realize his patterns of negative automatic thinking. In many scenarios, he finds himself thinking badly about himself and his actions lead him to continue on a negative track. He tends to believe that many people do not want to be around him or even get lunch with him like his situation with Jeff. His thoughts due to these circumstances then lead him to think negatively towards himself and it becomes a cycle. In establishing this core belief, it helps make the process more clear to Mark and it will help him get that much closer to a positive therapeutic outcome at the end of therapy.
    In continuing on to make more positive changes, some modification techniques can be more beneficial to keep Mark on track. First, I think it is important for him to keep in mind of being self aware in these types of situations. A good tip would be to have him identify a few negative outcomes first, but to then move into the more positive reasonings in order to help his thought process develop into realizing more advantages in the scenarios he gets stuck in. This can help Mark think more realistically while still not completely ruling out all of the negatives at once. It is good to have a balance between thinking on two different extremes. Eventually, he will be able to replace more negative thoughts throughout the process. Being able to see both sides can help him maintain his core belief and it will keep him motivated in finding more solutions without immediately shutting down.

    In practicing this technique on myself, it was a bit more embarrassing and shocking than I had anticipated. It was hard to admit to myself the reality of my cognitive and emotional responses. Events that happen in the past can still effect how you think about things today and that is something that occurs often. I have found approaches to tell myself to focus more on reality and the present events so that I try not to self sabotage in future circumstances. It can be easy to overthink and reflect back on stressful events from many years ago, but it will not help any situations in the present and future if your mind is stuck on those acts. Finding ways to help cope and find things within your core beliefs can be very beneficial. I have become more aware of my actions and how they portray within my cognitive and emotional responses this way and it has helped me make a change on certain perspectives so that I am happier.

    Reply

    • Victoria Cestodio
      Mar 14, 2022 @ 17:04:39

      Hi Lauren,
      I like the techniques you mentioned to help modify some of his core beliefs, like you mentioned identifying some of the negative outcomes but then identifying the possible positive outcomes. Being realistic is important when having a client like Mark because (I mentioned this in my post), we can’t have Mark go from ‘no one likes me’ to ‘everyone likes me’, because to be honest that is just not realistic at all and it would not be beneficial to think in such a way. I also agreed that doing this technique felt embarrassing and shocking. I also agree that finding ways to cope is needed and it can definitely be hard to identify sometimes and even hard to go through the coping process but in the long run it will help us a lot more.

      Reply

    • Vanessa Nichols
      Mar 15, 2022 @ 12:48:42

      Hi Lauren
      Great post this week!
      I agree with you that it was really important for Mark to get to this next step of identifying his core belief. I think Dr.V has mentioned it before that it may not be necessary to address the core belief that sometimes modifying just negative automatic thoughts is enough to alleviate the distress for some clients. However, in Mark’s situation, he keeps having the same type of automatic negative thought. I think it was really important to address core beliefs.
      I felt embarrassed and shocked a little bit when doing this technique on myself. I think maybe be so aware and educated in the field; I was a little startled by how much I let these thoughts or beliefs get to me. I think the idea that past events could still affect me so heavily was somewhat eye-opening. I agree that it can be beneficial to address the negative core beliefs and thoughts, no matter how uncomfortable. You are more aware of why you are taking specific actions or coping in certain ways. Allowing you to reflect and make sure you make the best decisions for yourself.

      Reply

    • Jeremy
      Mar 16, 2022 @ 20:16:01

      Hey Laureen!
      I really liked your post. I liked how you reminded me that the goal is not core belief extinction but rate to get a better mix of positive and negative automatic thoughts and to alter maladaptive core beliefs. I can definalty relate to the difficulty of admitting to myself the deeper core beliefs.I got stuck around my second belief that kept cycling I knew there was something deeper that I wanted to express but found myself unable to. once I Shifted my mindset I was able to find a better persepctive that I notices came up the next time I had the automatic thought.

      Reply

  3. Vanessa Nichols
    Mar 15, 2022 @ 12:11:51

    Dr. V’s gentle, challenging, and leading help Mark get to the root of his negative automatic thoughts. I think the downward-arrow technique was effective, especially in Mark’s case, because it allowed Dr.V to challenge some of his negative thoughts in a supportive and non-confrontation manner. This challenge was necessary because it helped Mark explore his negative automatic thoughts deeper and determine what those thoughts meant to him. I think we all knew somewhat what Mark’s core belief was, but I think it’s essential to let Mark figure it out himself using these techniques. I think the process of discovering and connecting the negative automatic thoughts and core beliefs is just as important as knowing what the core belief is. For modification techniques, I would use the evidence for and evidence against worksheet and the disadvantage and advantage worksheet. In Mark’s case, I think it’s crucial to help him find evidence for and against this core belief. Mark has frequent negative automatic thoughts related to this core belief, so having evidence on hand that he can use to evaluate the situation and make himself feel a little better could be beneficial. I also think it’s important for Mark to see how much this core belief affects his life. I think Mark somewhat knows but maybe seeing exactly how this core belief negatively affects his life could provide him some insight.
    I already knew the core belief that is at the root of most of my negative thoughts, but this technique, I think, helped me challenge it a little more. I felt somewhat silly after doing the downward arrow techniques because I tended to catastrophize. The thoughts didn’t seem like I was blowing them out of proportion in my head, but then saying it out loud and seeing it on the worksheet, I was like, that’s not true, like there is substantial evidence to say otherwise. So I think I just felt a little silly and shocked that I let these negative automatic thoughts and core beliefs affect my life so much when mostly there isn’t evidence to support it. I liked the question, “if what you say is really bad, what is the worst part about it?” This question led me to think more deeply past the automatic negative thought and make a more generalized statement reflecting core beliefs vs. an individual situation.

    Reply

    • Victoria Cestodio
      Mar 15, 2022 @ 16:38:24

      Hi Vanessa!

      I also agree with you that it is important to let Mark kind of figure it out himself using these techniques, I think that will be the most beneficial for him. When it comes to doing the technique on ourselves I definitely relate with you feeling a little silly. I also tend to catastrophize a lot so I’m right there with you! However I think realizing and being self aware that we are catastrophizing is powerful. Like we know, having self awareness can help tremendously and we both seem to have it!

      Great post!

      Victoria

      Reply

    • Will Roche
      Mar 16, 2022 @ 11:08:02

      Vanessa,

      I think the first few words of your response are really important in helping Mark get to his core beliefs. I think that the delivery of such difficult questions and trying to really use this downward-arrow technique is very crucial. If a therapist conveys these questions in a manner that isn’t accepting or comforting to the client, this could create some backlash against the therapist. Especially when trying to find the root of an issue, being gentle and respectful in the manner in which you try to get to these feelings is important. Because these core beliefs are so ingrained in clients, it might make them more vulnerable or hostile in trying to get to them. Therefore, I really think an underrated aspect of MDD-15 was the cadence and delivery in questioning of how to get Mark to figure out what his core beliefs truly are and how to move on in relieving these feelings of unlikability. Great post!

      Reply

    • Jeremy
      Mar 16, 2022 @ 20:09:28

      Hey Vanessa,
      Great Post! I defiantly agree for mark a lot of the value in the downward arrow tequine is learning the technique of questioning his automatic thoughts. It is really helpful to learn qhat questions work best for him.
      I can definalty relate to feeling silly completing the downwards arrow technique. Writing down the thoughts seemed so much simpler than what my thoughts produced. I also really like the if it’s so bad what is the worst part question because it helped me dig deeper into what felt like was really bothering me.

      Reply

    • Tressa Novack
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 12:33:58

      Hi Vanessa,
      Great post. I also felt that the downward arrow technique was effective with Mark, and I feel like Mark probably had an idea of what his core belief was, but the technique really helped him get there. I also said that examining the evidence would be a good modification technique for Mark to use to evaluate his core belief, and I said that viewing the core belief on a continuum would be helpful for him as well. This could help Mark see where he is in comparison to those who are actually not well liked and that he is very well liked. It may reveal to him that his core belief is not as valid as he thought. I appreciate your thoughts on when you did the downward arrow technique on yourself. I also knew what core belief I was working on. The question that helped you out the most is a good one. The ones that I like a lot are “so what” and “if that’s true what does it mean about you?”
      Tressa

      Reply

    • Pilar Betts
      Mar 19, 2022 @ 23:55:25

      Hi Vanessa,
      I agree the delivery of the questions when doing the downward arrow technique is important, by being cautious of how the best way to ask the question may shows the client you have compassion and want them to improve not worsen by adding to those negative thoughts. Mark was able to come to understand a core belief of his in a deeper light and this helped him later on to move towards steps to change those thoughts and he was able to go out with coworkers and Melissa and have a nice time.

      Reply

  4. Will Roche
    Mar 16, 2022 @ 11:04:31

    The downward-arrow technique has been used so Mark can deconstruct these automatic thoughts and mental barriers between his thoughts and his core beliefs. Using this technique allows Dr. V to ask Mark certain questions that can surpass those mental barriers and get closer to those true core beliefs. In this session, Mark is able to determine that one of his core beliefs is that generally speaking, he is not well liked. Even when faced with contradictory evidence to these beliefs, Mark still finds himself questioning whether people like him or not. In fairness, if a group of coworkers that were acquaintances with Mark did not ask him to go to lunch, there may be room for concern there. Therefore, it would be up to Dr. V and Mark to determine whether this scenario is seen mainly because of a core belief, or if there is some validity to this concern and they work on figuring out how to cope with this reality. Similar to like what Dr. V said, “What’s the worst that could happen?” and “At the end of the day, who cares?” I think this might help to decatastrophize the situation for Mark and help him cope with the potential reality of this event.

    I think some important modification techniques Mark could use in these scenarios would be continuing to use Socratic questioning. Mark tends to catastrophize a lot of events where it could exacerbate his beliefs of not being well liked. I think when using Socratic questioning and using specific questions that can point to evidence on the contrary, this will help curb these strong negative thoughts and core beliefs that Mark tends to experience quite frequently.

    I think when practicing this technique on yourself, it’s important to take a look at the current relevancy of the core belief now based on current evidence that you have. For one of the core beliefs I was thinking about, it was important for me to take a step back and think about why this belief is affecting me so much when I don’t think others feel the same way. It’s a difficult process when trying to utilize this technique on yourself, but it allows me to recognize that some of the things that I thought were so important, were much more trivial that I initially thought.

    Reply

    • Monika
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 13:15:15

      Hi Will,
      You made some really good points, I didn’t think of how an individual’s mental barriers can affect them deconstructing their thoughts but it makes sense to me now and seems so obvious after this. I guess this is one of the reasons why in spite of being intellectually aware that Melissa loves him, at the moment he gets emotionally caught up and starts overthinking which leads him catastrophizing. Also, checking for the validity of these thoughts is a good idea, sometimes just having an objective opinion about things can help us understand that it is not always as it seems to us and we were scrutinizing things that didn’t mean anything. Lastly, I agree with you on doing the downward arrow technique on ourselves, I found it rather difficult doing it on myself than I would in comparison to others. But it did help me realize the negative thought process and what I need to do to modify it. Great Post!

      Reply

  5. Jeremy
    Mar 16, 2022 @ 13:42:36

    The downward arrow Technique was a really good process for Mark to explore his thoughts and beliefs surrounding his unlikeable automatic thoughts. It is really helpful for him, especially as a thinker, he’s able to slow down the automatic thoughts and emotions and intellectually analyze the evidence for his automatic thoughts, best displayed when he expresses several emotions before arriving at the concussion that he isn’t valued if people don’t want to be around him, Dr. Vs hard question help Mark is to identify a claim or a belief that goes towards maintaining his automatic thought and refuting it and continuing to do so until he arrives at a core belief.

    Given that Mark is a fairly intellectual person, modifying his core beliefs may be most effective through examining evidence practices and worksheets. Becoming familiar with an intuitive way to refute core beliefs in a way that is similar to his thought process means he is more likely to adopt the necessary skill outside of the therapeutic environment. I think Mark will be able to find enough evidence to overcome his core belief if he constantly challenges it with evidence.

    In doing my downward arrow technique I often replaced my first thoughts quickly with what I felt like I “should be feeling” as such I found asking so what? Or what does this mean about you? Yielded dead-end responses that did not go towards identifying the core belief that I thought was the underlying process. When doing this I found a lot of frustration because I wasn’t able to see deeper into my core beliefs. Despite having my own destination in mind I could not get to that conclusion until I switch to my questions to ask more along the lines of what is the worst part of the presented belief, which opened up the internal “discussion” to lines that dug deeper into the core belief.

    Reply

    • Lauren Pereira
      Mar 16, 2022 @ 17:56:27

      Jeremy,

      I agree that the downward arrow technique was a great process for Mark to get to experience in order to best explore his thoughts and beliefs. I like that you described this process as slowing down Marks automatic thought process which helped him analyze the types of thoughts and emotions he portrayed most. This technique ultimately modified his core beliefs and made a slight positive change thus far.
      A great strategy for Mark to continue through this process is using worksheets because we have been able to see that this has worked for Mark in previous scenarios.
      I see how using this technique on yourself can become frustrating. I am glad that you did not give up even after feeling this way. You were still able to express your struggles which is a great start in the process. Great post!

      Reply

    • Moises Chauca
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 00:26:32

      Hello Jeremy,
      I enjoyed reading your post! I agree that the downward technique was really beneficial to Mark. We can see how much he benefited from this by his awareness of his thoughts. I agree with your point about Mark being a fairly intellectual person. Mark is able to identify and be open to modify their thoughts which has resulted in treatment and techniques to be more effective. Lastly, I can understand your frustration, I found my self feeling the same because I tend to think about my past experiences that lead to the development of my beliefs that I felt angry that I could not change those experiences. However, I felt that focusing on the future was better for my thoughts. Also, I am glad that you are able to recognize it and processes it, you did not give up and kept trying.

      Reply

    • Pilar
      Mar 20, 2022 @ 00:00:59

      Hi Jeremy,
      I didn’t think about the downward arrow technique in that way before, but you have a point it did help Mark to slow down and really pick apart the thoughts he was having and whether or not there was evidence to support those thoughts. The questions challenged Marks thoughts and caused him to look at these negative thoughts on a new light.

      I also tried to direct my thoughts when filling out the downward arrow myself because I felt like everything needed to connect but once I regrouped and switched to asking my self questions about thoughts pertaining to a core belief I know is present.

      Reply

  6. Tressa Novack
    Mar 16, 2022 @ 21:55:22

    The downward arrow technique was effective in leading Mark to his core belief because the questions that Dr. V asked challenged Mark to get right at the heart of his automatic thoughts. By asking Mark “so what” and “if you had to answer yes or no, do people like you,” Mark was led to answer with his core belief, which is that he believes that people do not like him. These kinds of questions help the client because their answers are greatly influenced by their core beliefs, which they may not have been aware of before learning about automatic thoughts and using the downward arrow technique. When considering Mark’s background it was not surprising to hear that his core belief is unlikeability and the downward technique seemed to be very effective in revealing that. I think the modification techniques that would be helpful for Mark are the Examining the Evidence worksheet and the Negative Core Belief worksheet. I think Mark seems to respond well to evidence that goes against his automatic thoughts and core beliefs, although he seems to forget about the evidence in moments of distress, such as when Jeff said they could make plans for lunch at a later time. I also think that by doing the continuum worksheet, Mark could put his core belief into perspective. It could help Mark to see that compared to other people he isn’t unlikeable. It could also help him to understand that while not every single person will like us, that doesn’t equate to being unlikeable. It may also help Mark realize how many people do like him and lead him to a more neutral to positive core belief.

    After trying the downward arrow technique on myself, I do not think I had any intense reaction because the automatic thought I used I have been working with for a long time so I had an idea of what core belief I was working towards. It made me feel sad for myself that I believe what I believe about myself, but not as sad as I feel in moments of actual emotional distress. The questions of the technique that I found to be most helpful for me are the questions of “if that’s true, so what,” and “what does that mean about you?” I think that makes me get right at the heart of what I’m thinking and feeling. When I answer those questions, I have to stop for a second and ask myself “what I am really thinking about myself in this moment?” I think that makes it pretty easy for me to pinpoint the core belief.

    Reply

    • Monika
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 12:59:38

      Hi Tressa,
      Great post this week, I like the point you made that the kind of questions Dr V asked Mark led him to get to his core belief. I think it’s very important for a client to realize their core beliefs on their own rather than the therapist just pointing them out for them. It’s important that clients learn to do this outside of therapy in real-life situations. Asking questions like so what? or what does that mean to you? can help clients ask themselves the same questions next time and help them control their negative thoughts. Mark being an overthinker, this will be helpful for him in the future as well. I like the modification technique you suggested, I feel the same that helping Mark realize that people do like him and examining the evidence for it will help him modify them.

      Reply

    • Sandra Karic
      Mar 20, 2022 @ 01:54:53

      Hi Tressa,
      Great job explaining how the downward arrow technique revealed Mark’s core belief by assessing what is beneath the automatic thoughts. I also thought the examining the evidence and continuum techniques could be really helpful for Mark. As you noted, he does have a tendency to forget or filter out contrary evidence, so actually writing it out could be beneficial. I think the continuum technique might help Mark think of himself in a more adaptive and realistic manner. No one is really 100% likable or dislikable and putting it on a scale and thinking of other people could help Mark process that he is generally likable.

      Reply

  7. Moises Chauca
    Mar 16, 2022 @ 22:38:29

    The downward-arrow technique can be effective to bring the client’s core belief to their awareness. In the video, we see Mark expressing his negative thoughts and open to being challenged on the thought. Dr.V did a great job challenging Mark to develop more awareness about the thought and help Mark explore the evidence for and against the thought. After doing the DAT worksheet, we see that Dr. V questions about the thought led to Mark realizing that his core beliefs were worthless and unlikable. A modification technique that would be most appropriate would be weighing the evidence on the advantages and disadvantages. We want Mark to see how having these automatic thoughts and core beliefs is affecting his life. Examining this data can help Mark modify his core beliefs to look more accurate and realistic,
    After completing the DAT, I did have many emotional and cognitive reactions. I found myself thinking about my past experience related to these beliefs and how these core beliefs developed. In addition, I started thinking how these core beliefs are not helpful in the situations I experienced them and how can I modify them. I felt happier that I am more knowledgeable about my thoughts and my beliefs. Lastly, I found that asking the right questions like“ What does this thought mean about you” helped me realize and explore more the thought.

    Reply

    • Madelyn Haas
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 13:58:39

      Hi Moises,
      Great post this week. Dr. V use of the downward arrow technique helped to bring Mark’s core beliefs to the surface. Even if Mark had an idea about his core beliefs prior, the discussion about them in relation to his negative automatic thought about Jeff made them more concrete. It gave him an example of how his core belief affects his thoughts and feelings. By bringing these core beliefs to the surface, Dr. V was able to have a discussion about what they mean to Mark. Going forward, they can work together to change these beliefs into more realistic and adaptive ones.

      I agree about the downward arrow worksheet. It made me think about how I view myself, and how I have negatively evaluated myself in the past in relation to my core belief. I am glad to hear that in the end you were able to feel some relief and realize that these negative thoughts are not helpful. I also found that “What does this thought mean about you?” question was helpful because it made me realize why I am so hard on myself sometimes.

      Reply

  8. Emily Barefield
    Mar 16, 2022 @ 23:06:33

    Prior to the use of the downward arrow technique the therapist, and likely the client as well, had a good idea of what the client’s core belief was. However, the use of the downward arrow technique was very valuable for Mark not only because it led to the recognition of his core belief but also because of the conversation produced by the technique. Mark is very familiar with and shows good understanding of automatic thoughts. He also has a good level of self-awareness, which makes this technique a good fit for him. Using the promptings of the technique Mark was able to go a little bit deeper and recognize the meaning behind his thoughts and why they are so impactful. The belief that you are unlikeable by others would certainly be a challenging and very sad lens through which to view the world. I think listing advantages and disadvantages of Mark’s negative core beliefs would be appropriate for him. He seems to respond well to more logic-based interventions (such as examining the evidence), and so I would expect him to respond well to this. I also think separating the self from the negative core belief could be effective. Separating the self from the negative automatic thought previously seemed to be very helpful for him. When he put Melissa in his shoes when discussing the incident where Jeff did not have time to go to lunch with him, Mark was able to give many more external explanations than he was for himself.

    I did experience negative emotions while completing the downward arrow technique. As I was moving down the arrow at first, I felt an increase in stress and anxiety, and as I moved further down my emotions were more feeling sad and down. I am cognitively aware that this core belief is not necessarily true, and I am able to dismiss automatic thoughts related to this core belief most of the time, but it can cause issues every so often. The questions “If what you say is true, what does that mean about you?” and “What is so bad about…?” were helpful in guiding the process for me. The question “Is this core belief relevant/believed?” is really an interesting one to me, because (and I realize Mark hinted at this too) cognitively I do not really believe this core belief but there are definitely times every so often where I do feel it emotionally.

    Reply

    • Madelyn Haas
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 13:49:49

      Hi Emily,
      I enjoyed reading your post this week. I think your analysis of Mark and his awareness about himself and his thoughts is apt. He is obviously intellectually aware of his negative thoughts and core beliefs, but he has not been able to replace them with more adaptive, realistic ones yet. Even if he believes they are untrue most days, they hurt when he experiences rejection or feeling unlikeable. I also think your point about the conversational aspect of this technique is great. Had Dr. V and Mark not done this exercise, they would not be able to analyze and discuss in depth why this rejection hurt Mark so much.

      I felt similarly about the core belief exercise. Going into it, I knew what my core belief was, but it made me sad to write it down and acknowledge that that is how I think about myself at times. I also found the question “If what you say is true, what does that mean about you?” very important. It made me consider how I view myself as a person and why my negative thoughts and beliefs hurt.

      Reply

  9. Monika
    Mar 16, 2022 @ 23:47:37

    With the downward arrow technique, we are looking to understand what is the core belief at the bottom and we are looking for a core belief with the ‘I am.. or me.. statement. So we start with a statement or thought that doesn’t look that harmful and start digging deeper, going through different layers of cognition until we reach that core belief. So with Mark it started with my colleagues didn’t want me around at lunch, but then we can already see that ‘I’ statement when Mark next says, I’m not valuable or anything. Then Mark goes on to say I am not a good person, and with some more exploring we finally reach that core belief of ‘I am unlikable’. And Mark being an overthinker the downward arrow technique helped him to focus on one negative thought at a time and dig deeper until he reached that core belief.

    I think the first strategy that can be helpful for Mark would be examining the evidence against his core beliefs, the goal here would be to ask Mark to gather as much evidence as possible against his core belief, which in turn will increase the likelihood of him modifying this belief and believing the new one. For this, we can make use of the core belief worksheet or just track the evidence overtime on a positive data log. Mark intellectually doesn’t believe in the negative thoughts a hundred per cent but sometimes in the moment, he does. For this reason, I think having a behavioural experiment might be useful for Mark since they are powerful experiential exercises that clients implement in their own lives, outside of the session, to test aspects of core beliefs. We already know that Jeff has spent a lot of time with Mark in the past. So, having Mark ask Jeff out again when he is free can help Mark challenge his core belief. But we need to be careful with this technique to make sure it doesn’t backfire.

    Trying out the technique on myself came as a surprise to me. I did kind of know my core beliefs but going through a range of negative thoughts and kind of questioning myself to get to the bottom of the core belief helped me explore some of my negative thoughts and also make sense of my core belief. I felt a little relieved to be honest because I fully understood the cause of my negative core belief and I know now how I can change it or at least I am aware of the things I need to do differently. Doing this technique also kind of made me reflect a little bit on my past and understand why I started to think in this certain way and I could trace it back to this one toxic relationship I had in my late teenage years.
    Since I am someone who tends to internalize a lot, I found questions like what does that say about you?, And so what, what if that were true? What are you worried that might mean? helpful. These can be especially helpful with clients with depression or people in general who tend to internalize things.

    Reply

  10. Madelyn Haas
    Mar 17, 2022 @ 13:42:20

    The downward-arrow technique is a method used to find one’s core beliefs by probing deeper and deeper into their automatic thoughts. For Mark, his core belief is that he is unlikeable, even though he knows that a lot of people care about or even love him. By using the situation with Jeff, Dr. V was able to see why Mark feeling excluded hurt him so deeply. To someone without the unlikeable core belief, their coworker having lunch without them may have meant nothing at all. To Mark, however, it just “confirmed” what he was already thinking about himself: that he is unlikeable and people prefer when he is not around. Dr. V got to the core belief by “why is that so important” and “what is so bad” about the situation. Mark was already seemingly aware of his core belief, but he still felt hurt because he has not replaced it with a more adaptive one. I think good modification techniques for Mark would be the pros and cons of his core belief and the evidence for/evidence against techniques. It is obvious that Mark intellectually knows that people like him, but he just cannot seem to convince himself of this. I think he would respond well to the evidence for and evidence against because it gives him time to consider all the people that do love him. He seems like a self-aware person, so I think he would respond well. The pros and cons of the core belief would also help. If he was able to consider how negatively the core belief is impacting him, he may reconsider it.
    I was already aware of my core belief, and I usually find it invalid. That being said, when I am doing poorly, I feel like it is true, as usually is the case. Going into the assignment, I knew what it was going to be but writing it out hurt. I know it is not rational, but it hurts to say out loud or write down because it feels more concrete. I felt sad for myself even if I currently do not feel like it is a valid belief. The question that was the most meaningful to me was “If what you say is true, what does that mean about you?” To me, that digs deep and makes me consider how I value myself as a person. It gets to WHY I am upset about my negative thoughts and self-image. I imagine this question can really impact clients as well and make them consider how they see themselves and value themselves. I am glad I did this assignment because I know how much it can sting and make people consider their value as a person.

    Reply

    • Sandra Karic
      Mar 20, 2022 @ 01:45:48

      Hi Madelyn,
      I think you did an awesome job explaining how Mark viewed the “rebuff” from Jeff as confirming that he is unlikable and why the belief is distressing. I also think that the evidence for/against and pros and cons techniques could work really well for Mark. As you said, he seems pretty self aware, and I also think he responds well to reason based techniques. I had a similar experience with the downward arrow exercise, I knew where it was going but it still hurt. Lastly, I agree that doing the exercise, while unpleasant, is helpful in demonstrating how the downward arrow technique can elicit a lot of emotion.

      Reply

  11. Lexi
    Mar 17, 2022 @ 14:28:53

    In Mark’s case the downward arrow technique was effective in leading to the core belief that is causing or contributing to his distressing automatic thoughts, Dr. V and Mark were able to examine the negative automatic thoughts that Mark experiences and kind of boil those thoughts down, or follow the breadcrumbs to lead to the belief. Mark seems to have a core belief that he is not lovable or not liked – he often interprets situations as he is not wanted and feels that he is not valued or worthless. I think one technique that comes to my mind would be to examine the evidence for and against these beliefs, Mark seems to respond well to logic and so I think we have seen that approach be effective with him. I like that this technique is non-confrontational yet effective at getting a client to shift their thinking in a more positive or productive direction. Mark is clearly starting to understand the damaging effects of the automatic thoughts and core beliefs that are causing his distress. Socratic questioning, and other techniques that force mark to discredit his own beliefs are important, he needs to see how these beliefs are not only harmful, but also mostly untrue when we look at his life overall.

    I like to think I am pretty self-aware, but doing this technique on myself definitely I think forced me to look at the frequency of negative thoughts I do experience and just kind of “move past” or fail to really acknowledge and maybe try to modify. I tend to generalize, and so I think realizing why this might be my tendency is important – as a future therapist and human. I think it is fascinating how some of the core beliefs I have that I know are harmful to me are still there, as an example issues that I thought I was “over” or had grown past – examining core beliefs forced me I think to an understanding that those past things are still there at least enough to be influencing the core beliefs I have that I may reject on a more conscious level. This obviously confirms for me what we have learned about core beliefs being formed early and being difficult to modify.

    Reply

    • Moises Chauca
      Mar 17, 2022 @ 21:37:36

      Hello Lexi,
      You made some great points on your post. I agree that examining the evidence for and against on Mark beliefs would be effective. Mark does seem to be more logical and intellectual to pinpoint these thoughts and beliefs. Also, the technique being non-confrontational facilitates Mark to development a great understanding and awareness of his beliefs.
      I had a similar experience with my core beliefs, I saw that I have been having these beliefs since I was young, and they have stuck with me until now. I see them as strong beliefs because that is how i always react to events with these events and I firmly believe that they are true. However, I glad the worksheet helped you confirm these beliefs similar to me

      Reply

    • Emily Barefield
      Mar 19, 2022 @ 22:21:23

      Hi Lexi,

      Great post, I like how you explained that Dr V. And Mark were able to examine the negative automatic thoughts and arrive at the conclusion of the core belief together. I also agree that Mark responds well to logic and that the examine the evidence approach would be effective for him.

      I had a similar experience with core beliefs I thought I had mostly worked through still being present. At times, I struggle more with this core beliefs and other times I am not aware of it. I agree that doing this exercise was a great way to highlight how persistent core beliefs can be.

      Reply

  12. Sandra Karic
    Mar 17, 2022 @ 15:06:04

    The downward arrow technique was successful in that it allowed Mark to dig deeper and reflect on the patterns of his automatic thoughts. As stated in the text, it is better if clients can identify these types of things on their own, rather than having a therapist tell them. I think the downward arrow technique also balanced the challenge and prompt to dig deeper with a gentleness. I liked that Dr V changed his wording between questions and that he praised Mark for doing the work during the exercise. I think Mark would respond well to examining the evidence, assessing the advantages/disadvantages, and placing the belief on a continuum. Mark seems to respond really well to rational approaches and has a history of only focusing on the evidence for, even when there’s a ton of evidence to the contrary. I think this would help him see that his negative core belief lacks validity. I think that the advantages/disadvantages technique could show him the benefits of modifying the belief and motivate him to keep trying. The technique could also show him how the belief may benefit him or have served him at one point, which may help him not be too hard on himself for having the belief. Finally, I think the continuum technique could help him be more realistic. People usually aren’t completely likable or dislikable, and sometimes people are just gonna dislike you. I think this technique could show him that he is generally likable and that people aren’t 100% likable all the time.
    I did already know what the belief was and why I developed it when I did this exercise, but I was still surprised by how strong of an emotional reaction I had to it. As much as I did not enjoy this exercise, it really demonstrated how difficult examining your negative core beliefs can be, even if you do not believe them all the time anymore. I liked the “If that’s true, so what?” and the “what’s the worst part about it?” questions. It was kind of funny because my answers to those questions actually contradicted the belief, but they also helped me dig deeper.

    Reply

  13. Pilar Betts
    Mar 17, 2022 @ 15:23:04

    The downward arrow technique helped Mark to look more into his core beliefs and the negative automatic thoughts that occur due to them because he was able to acknowledge the evidence of the situation like he did when looking at those automatic thoughts, which led him to a deeper understanding of the belief behind those thoughts. Mark’s core belief is that he is unlikeable, in completing the downward arrow technique Mark was able to identify his belief that he could be unlikeable so when Jeff said he was too busy to have lunch with him, but then Mark saw him return with some of their other colleagues he began to think Jeff just didn’t have time for him and they could have invited him to eat lunch with the group but they didn’t so that must mean they don’t like him either. Mark acknowledges that Melissa likes him and Bob and probably Jeff but he still feels like there is a possibility that he is unlikeable. This belief drives Mark’s automatic thoughts and every time someone says they are too busy to talk or spend time with him he will think they don’t like him or don’t want to be around him. As far as modification techniques it was evident that examining the evidence has been a valuable and useful technique for Mark, in the video he examined the evidence on his own for example, he talked about the fact Jeff did suggest they go out together another time. However , while examining the evidence he did mention how he saw Jeff returning with other coworkers and that made him feel sad and upset because they could have invited him to tag along and they didn’t. This evidence most likely encouraged and strengthened the negative core belief. With that being said a stronger technique may be to List the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Negative Core Belief because it will force Mark to examine more closely how much the core belief is affecting him. He will probably find that this core belief that he isn’t likable has more disadvantages for him than advantages. Sometimes simply writing down disadvantages and advantages or discussing them makes it more real and could possibly lead to changing that belief to a more positive, and healthy one.

    In doing the downward arrow technique activity myself I felt like I had to connect the negative thought to a core belief and couldn’t, this led me to think about things that are core beliefs to try and connect it back to the thought. Because this activity pertains to identifying and then modifying a core belief, finding a core belief became my focus rather than the actual thought. When I went back and asked myself the questions according to just the negative automatic thought it only made me more upset especially when answering the questions “if that’s true then so what? And what’s so bad about it? It was actually easier to answer the questions by picking a core belief rather than a negative thought first,( which is probably why it is kind of odd to do the activity yourself) then I was able to think about thoughts that occur because of that core belief and ask myself if there was evidence against that belief and if it was advantageous to believe.

    Reply

  14. Emily Barefield
    Mar 19, 2022 @ 23:08:20

    Hi Pilar,

    When a person has a core belief, they look for evidence to confirm that belief and dismiss or explain away any evidence that may contradict their core belief. I agree that this helping Mark examine the evidence more objectively and outside of himself is beneficial for him. Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of his core belief could be useful for him. He does seem to be aware that his core of his core belief and that it is not useful for him, he just struggles to feel that it is not true emotionally.

    I struggled a bit to connect my thoughts as well. It was kind of awkward to do the technique on myself as well, especially since I already knew the core belief I was trying to find. Good post this week.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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