Topic 7: The Practice of CBT – Core Beliefs {by 10/26}

There are multiple readings due this week (J. Beck – 2 Chapters; Wright et al. – 1 Chapter).  For this discussion, share at least one main thought: (1) What are core beliefs?  What are the therapeutic gains that come from modifying core beliefs?  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 10/26.  Have your two replies posted no later than 10/28.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

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41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Venessa Wiafe
    Oct 21, 2017 @ 19:43:26

    Core beliefs are known to be the nature of how individuals view themselves, other individuals, the future, and the world surrounding them. Core beliefs can be either negative or positive. Individuals believe that their core beliefs are true, and they do not consider what another person may think about them. The reason for this is because they will still label their core beliefs as being valid even if another person thinks or feels otherwise. Individuals believe that they have authority over their reality because their reality belongs to them. Since they control their reality, they must also have a sense of control over their belief system as well. Individuals can start developing negative core beliefs even when they have initially had positive core beliefs during their life time. These negative core beliefs can develop when individuals are internally affected with unpleasant emotions or feelings. These emotions and thoughts lead to having a pessimistic impact on the way individuals function. There are three classifications that core beliefs can be placed into, and they are helplessness, unlovability, and worthlessness. Negative life experiences can trigger their negative core beliefs to form. Individuals can start off with having a positive mindset of themselves, but as soon as they undergo a negative life event, they will alter their positive beliefs and replace them with negative beliefs about themselves. These individuals draw overly general conclusions about themselves. Since one negative event occurs in an individual’s life, for instance, his friend cancelling on a trip they had planned for months and were excited about, he will start to believe that he is unlovable or unlikable. He will also think that his friend doesn’t really like him and that’s why he cancelled on going on the trip with him. He will think about all the possible bad and negative reasons as to why he cancelled on him, instead of having rational beliefs about the situation. This negative situation will also cause him to have a negative outlook on his future, others, and his world around him, by overgeneralizing and having negative beliefs about these aspects of his life. This one negative core beliefs can turn an individual’s world around because of the negative impact it has on him.

    During CBT, the therapist can help his client realize that he is not alone and that other people can have negative core beliefs too. The therapist can also help him realize that the negative beliefs he is having can actually be invalid and that can lead the client to also realize that his beliefs are invalid. The client can take the self-blame off of him and begin to understand that just because unfortunate events occur, doesn’t mean that he is at fault or he isn’t valuable because of it. The client can also go back in time and disclose evidence that relates to the negative core belief, which can also bring forth facts that challenge his negative core beliefs. This challenge can help prove that his negative core beliefs aren’t true because it ends up contradicting the beliefs. Once the client realizes that some of his thoughts contradicts his negative core beliefs, he can begin to find evidence that can reinforce new, positive beliefs. Role playing can also help the client view his negative situation in a much more positive light by having a new view on the situation and re-evaluating it. The re-evaluation that the client engages in with the therapist during role play sessions assists the client with drawing a healthier conclusion to his experience. The client will be able to decrease his negative core beliefs and increase positive core beliefs. Even if the negative core beliefs aren’t fully eradicated at first, the positive core beliefs will be taken into consideration more than the negative beliefs. The client also realizes that he shouldn’t overgeneralize on his beliefs about himself and the world around him just because he encounters a negative experience. Every goes through tough situations and that shouldn’t define them as a person.

    Reply

    • Sarah Hine
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 09:50:36

      Vanessa,
      You bring up the point that individuals have control over their personal reality and over their core beliefs. This is a really interesting idea to consider, because oftentimes people feel like their experiences, thoughts, feelings are out of their control. Even the three categories of negative core beliefs suggest a sense of powerlessness. However, CBT suggest that people do have power over their beliefs and their thoughts. I think one of the benefits of CBT is educating clients about their ability to control their perceptions and beliefs even though they may not always be able to control their environments. Understanding the control a person has over their beliefs may help them see with clarity how they have formed negative, unrealistic beliefs, and can also help them realize their ability and their need to modify them.

      Reply

    • Alana Kearney
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 10:37:20

      Hey Venessa,
      I like that you affirm that people shouldn’t have to be defined by the situations they go through. Since core beliefs are at the root of out thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, it seems like we are our beliefs. Although these beliefs guide us, humans still possess free will and the ability to change our actions and thoughts. Negative core beliefs can harmfully impact our daily lives, but it’s important to remind our clients that change is possible and our mistakes do not have to define who we are in the future.

      Reply

  2. Olivia Grella
    Oct 22, 2017 @ 21:44:57

    Core beliefs stem from early childhood experiences and can be either positive or negative. When working on core beliefs in therapy, the focus is on taking negative core beliefs and strengthening the new positive ones. Like automatic thoughts, the individual perceives these as valid and true. Core beliefs are overgeneralized into an overall theme. Some examples of core beliefs are being unlovable and worthless. Like previously stated, these beliefs come from negative past experiences that lead the individual to think this way. The book also noted that a person could have negative core beliefs about other people. Because they have been occurring for so long, core beliefs can cause a lot of distress to the client. In therapy, core beliefs are worked on after automatic thoughts. This is because automatic thoughts are situation specific, but relate back to a core belief. For some clients, working on automatic thoughts is enough and core beliefs don’t even have to be discussed. However, this depends on the client and what their needs are.

    When core beliefs are modified in therapy, there is a lot that can be gained from this process. For one, these beliefs cause a lot of distress and replacing them with a positive core belief can reduce that. A core belief of being unlovable is difficult to function with and even slightly starting to realize that this is not valid can make an improvement in the client’s mood. Introducing this new positive core belief can help the client slowly work towards a new understanding. This way they are gaining skills to transfer over to when they exit therapy and possibly experience some of those emotions again as it isn’t possible to fully get rid of that core belief. The book lists multiple ways that a therapist can go about modifying negative core beliefs. Some examples are the Core Belief Worksheet, using extreme contrasts, and historical tests. All of these examples help the client examine the evidence behind their core belief that most likely is not true and work towards strengthening the new positive core belief.

    Reply

    • Luke Gustavson
      Oct 26, 2017 @ 15:01:15

      I’ve been thinking on the fact that core beliefs stem from childhood experience and find myself reflecting on the statement “no one escapes childhood unscathed.” Surely there are people whose negative core beliefs hardly activate – if ever, or if they do it is a simple problem and not traumatic. However, could there hypothetically be an individual who goes through childhood without developing a negative core belief at some point?

      Furthermore, if it is true that no one escapes childhood unscathed, would it not be more prudent and proactive to ensure these beliefs are not rehearsed and maintained for tens of years before being tackled? This should make psychotherapy with children and adolescents all the more important, I would imagine. Of course, this then begs the next question, “is the core belief of a child less rigid than that of an adult?” It should stand to reason that a belief without rehearsal and much maintenance is easier to modify than a belief that has had 20 years to solidify into particular behaviors, thoughts, and emotions.

      If the above is true, should the mental health field pay particularly close attention to children in efforts to prevent – inasmuch as it is possible – the establishment of mental disorders? We should not discount the adult sufferers but if we might prevent the child from cementing certain schemas and beliefs we should be able to reduce the amount of adult sufferers in the future, not accounting for the development of mental disorders later due to unrelated stressors and the like.

      Reply

      • Noella Teylan-Cashman
        Oct 27, 2017 @ 23:23:03

        Luke,

        To offer a few thoughts on a few of your questions:
        I think it would be VERY unlikely (as in, borderline impossible- but I try to refrain from using finite phrases such as “impossible,” since there are often exceptions to every rule) for an individual to go through childhood without developing negative views. With that being said, I think the negative views that are established in childhood later turn into core beliefs once the individual has lived through additional experiences that “support” their initial negative view(s). Basically, I do not think that core beliefs are solidified until adolescence or adulthood, but are shaped during childhood.

        I think the notion of preventative measures during childhood/adolescence is a tricky concept. I think it’s unrealistic to assert that every child should participate in psychotherapy while growing up. I think it may be more beneficial (in the long run) to 1. address societal issues that initiate negative core beliefs, 2. create a more open dialogue with children about mental health in general and encourage them to express their feelings *both boys and girls!!! Take away the stigma attached to boys who talk about their feelings (relating to the societal issues I spoke about in #1!), and 3. more readily offer public education to children and their families regarding mental health.

        No idea if any of these ideas have any merit, but these are just some thoughts that popped into my head while reading your post. Hope it gives you something to think about in regards to your original questions!

        Reply

      • Matthew Collin
        Oct 28, 2017 @ 19:45:35

        Luke,
        I feel that trying to stop children from experiencing bad and distressful events is a farce one. It’s almost as if trying arrest a criminal before he/she commits a crime. The thing is, most children experience distressful things, and come out unscathed. A lot of children may go through a significant life event – like his/her parent’s divorcing – and don’t develop any sort of negative core belief, or maladaptive behaviors. Genetics I think mediates who develops what if both people experience that same stressful event. Also, I’m not sure if schemas and core beliefs are “solidified” over time. Sure, they can be reinforced, but I’m not quite sure if the belief gets stronger or intensifies over time. I’m not sure how that can possibly be measured? I think when one is formed, it’s there to stay till other evidence proves otherwise – or evidence the person can identify. All in all, I have no idea. I think these are really good questions to be asking.

        Reply

    • Venessa Wiafe
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 06:26:28

      Hi Olivia,

      I really like how you added that the modification of core beliefs won’t only help clients during therapy sessions, but also when therapy is terminated. Negative core beliefs are extremely unpleasant and unfortunate. Modifying them is great, but maintaining this modification is a plus . Clients shouldn’t have to fear running into negative core beliefs and not knowing how to alter them . Since core beliefs are so heavily weighted on clients, having the motivation to modify them on their own through worksheets and other straggles will definitely strengthen their success in modifying negative core beliefs solely, as well learning how to find their positive core beliefs and sticking to them.

      Reply

    • Alana Kearney
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 10:40:18

      Hey Olivia,
      I like that you brought up the point that we can have negative core beliefs about other people. It’s interesting to relate core beliefs to first impressions and possible prejudices we have towards others. It really shows first hand how much affect core beliefs have on our daily lives. These negative core beliefs about others can effect how we feel about them, how we act around them, how we treat them, and how they in turn think about us. Core beliefs are a very internal concept, but the outcomes of these beliefs can have many external repercussions and can affect other people’s mental health in tandem.

      Reply

    • Stephanie Welch
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 21:07:51

      Olivia,
      I liked that you made the statement of core beliefs being negative or positive. I think that it is easy to automatically jump to the negative core beliefs while ignoring the positive core beliefs. I also liked that you pointed out strengthening positive core beliefs. I think that it can be often overlooked that the client may have a positive core belief present that may have been replaced by a negative core belief due to stress and life events.

      Reply

  3. Matthew Collin
    Oct 25, 2017 @ 09:56:42

    Core beliefs (or schemas), as described by Beck and Wright, act as almost an apparatus to filter and distill the vast amount of information that someone takes in from the world. They allow someone to process and make sense of the complex world around him/her. They also are used in someone’s decision making process, and can have a direct impact on patterns of maladaptive or adaptive behavior.
    Core beliefs don’t necessarily need to be negative in nature either. They can also be positive. For instance, someone might have a core belief that they are personable and are able to communicate well with others. This sets the stage for processing information of that nature. This may include communicating with others, meeting new people, and having the confidence in someone’s ability to peruse social tasks. This is in contrast to someone who may have a core belief of worthlessness. This type of core belief typically causes someone to process information in a way that makes them feel victimized, or he/she is the cause of all his/her problems and the others around them.
    Core beliefs are formed by past experience, and as wright talks about, are also influenced by genetics – this paradigm is normally called the stress-diathesis model when describing particular maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors. Genetics may play a part in the formation of temperament, intellect, and the vulnerability someone may have to negative core beliefs and automatic thoughts. Past experiences and interactions with one’s environment also play a role in the formation and the content of someone’s core beliefs. If someone has experienced many hardships in his/her life, or had experiences of trauma, it may be understandable that he/she may have a core belief of the world is out to get him/her.
    The therapeutic gains of modifying someone’s core belief is that it can fundamentally change how he/she views the world and situations he/she may encounter. If someone is experiencing a negative core belief it’s essential to try to counterbalance it with a positive one, or at least a more adaptive one. Someone’s negative core belief won’t necessarily go away, but having the new core belief that challenges the negative one may allow new ways of processing information. Simply the presence of a new core belief may allow someone to critically think about his/her thoughts, and the world around him/her. This hopefully allows someone to attain lower levels of distress with his/her negative core beliefs.

    Reply

    • Luke Gustavson
      Oct 26, 2017 @ 14:51:59

      Schemas have always been a double-edged sword as I’ve understood them. We developed schemas as shortcuts to help us understand the world around us in an expedient manner. This expedience keeps us from having to process everything as-if new each time we encounter something, but this seems to come at a price once we take core beliefs into account. Well, schemas as a whole can be rather negative, too, but I’m mixing social psych in.

      The fact that this quick processing can leave us prone to systemic hiccups (logical errors not unlike those of a computer) is particularly intriguing. In essence, our ability to make sense of the world is done in a slapdash manner. It’s fast but extremely unstable, right? I have been trying to think of a scenario where humans might not experience negative core beliefs but I think them to be a fact of life – a consequence of our processing speed. As a result, I think we’ll be doomed to modification whereas the ideal would be prevention.

      Reply

    • Venessa Wiafe
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 06:36:20

      Hi Matt,

      The fact that you touched upon the fact that a client’s genetic composition can cause him to have negative core beliefs was great. That stuck out to me while I was reading your post because, people tend to forget that certain individuals don’t just choose to have negative core beliefs simply due to negative experiences and etc. Individuals can have negative core beliefs due to how, for instance, a biological parent may have perceived events and dealt with them. Some individuals don’t have a sense of control over having negative core beliefs due to genetic make-up and some may feel lost in the reason as to why that transpires. During psychoeducation pertaining to core beliefs, I find it to be extremely salient for therapists to speak on the fact that genes play a role in how one perceives past events and lead them into having negative core beliefs of themselves, others, the world, and future. This can release a lot of stress and anxiety from clients and help them better understand where their specific negative core beliefs stem from.

      Reply

    • Venessa Wiafe
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 06:47:50

      Hi Matt,

      The fact that you touched upon the fact that a client’s genetic composition can cause him to to have negative core beliefs was great. That stick out to me as I was reading your post because, people tend to forget that not all individuals don’t choose to have negative core beliefs due to past experiences and etc. Individuals can have negative core beliefs due to how, for instance, their biological parents may have perceived events and dealt with them. Some individuals don’t have a sense of control over having negative core beliefs due to their genetic make-up and some may feel lost in the reason as to why they have consistent negative core beliefs. During psychoeducation pertaining to core beliefs, I believe it is extremely salient for therapists to speak on the fact that genes play a role in how one perceives past experiences, which leads them into having negative core beliefs about themselves, others , the future, and the world. This can relieve clients from stress and anxiety. They will be able to have a better comprehension of where their specific negative core beliefs derive from.

      Reply

  4. Stephanie Welch
    Oct 25, 2017 @ 10:23:06

    Core beliefs are fundamental beliefs developed early in life. The core beliefs are centered around beliefs of the self, others, and the world. Core beliefs can be difficult to identify and label. The core beliefs are an seen as valid and truthful to the individual. Core beliefs may be difficult to change because of the nature of this the deep, fundamental belief. Core beliefs influence automatic thoughts.
    Most times people have positive core beliefs. However, multiple factors including genetics, stress, events, and the environment can influence the development of negative core beliefs. Aaron Beck states that there are two categories of negative core beliefs. The categories of negative core beliefs are helplessness and unlovability. Judy Beck identifies a third negative core belief as worthlessness.
    The therapeutic gain that comes from modifying core beliefs is the replacement of negative core beliefs with positive core beliefs. The intense impact of negative core beliefs on an individual can take its toll. The individual will genuinely believe the negative core beliefs which affect his or her thoughts and actions. The knowledge that other people experience negative core beliefs can help the individual to feel less alone.
    Another therapeutic gain from modifying the core beliefs is the process of identifying the individual’s core beliefs and the experiences that lead to the development and perpetuation of his or her negative core beliefs. The Core Belief Worksheet is a useful tool for the individual to test the validity of his or her core beliefs. The process of focusing on the core belief can help the individual in the future by the individual being able to test the “evidence” for and against the core belief being true. The individual would be able to replace negative automatic thoughts with positive automatic thoughts and have more adaptive behavior.

    Reply

    • Liisa Biltcliffe
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 17:45:34

      Stephanie,
      I had not caught that aspect you mentioned (until class on 10/26) that many core beliefs are positive, only thinking of the negative or maladaptive core beliefs people have. It is important to keep in mind those positive core beliefs and be aware of them with clients because building on those and bringing them to focus can help clients with their negative or maladaptive core beliefs. If only focusing on the negative ones, it may make therapy a bit more of a challenge, I would think.

      Reply

    • shay
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 13:26:09

      Steph,
      Your comment made about talking with the client about past experiences caught my eye. Usually in CBT, the discussion about past experiences is not a central part of therapy. It is all about the present and what is going on in the now currently. CBT is not a psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy where early childhood experiences are discussed thoroughly or used as an explanation to psychopathology. What is interesting though is that these experiences shape a person. So while in CBT it isn’t at the forefront, we have to understand as therapist that these experiences are definitely a part of that person’s core. When talking about core beliefs, which are central to a person’s thoughts and identity, it is the only time in CBT in which the discussion of the past comes up. So I guess the question I have is if a person’s past experience shapes their core beliefs which can really mold a person, how much time in CBT is warranted spent discussing the past?

      Reply

  5. Luke Dery
    Oct 25, 2017 @ 20:33:26

    Core beliefs are an individual’s fundamental beliefs about the self, others, and the world around them. These deep-seated beliefs are determining factors in how individuals filter and categorize information from their environment and make decisions. Core beliefs can be positive or negative. Beck states that core beliefs typically start out positive but become more negative as we go negative experiences and psychological distress. Beck breaks negative core beliefs into the categories of those associated with either helplessness, unlovability, or worthlessness. Core beliefs begin to form at an early age and are shaped by our experiences and our interactions with our environment, including factors such as life events, trauma, success, and important individuals. Genetics also play a role in the formation of core beliefs. Factors such as temperament, intellect, individual skills or lack of skills, physicality, and biological vulnerability to mental and physical illness play a role in developing these beliefs. With the influences of all of these factors and time to be developed, core beliefs are often very rigid and hard to change. Core beliefs also influence an individual’s thought pattern when faced with certain situations, and often serve as the spawning point of automatic thoughts.

    Modifying negative core beliefs can have a lot of therapeutic benefit. Negative core beliefs about the world and the self often trap an individual into maladaptive patterns of thought and behavior. For example, if someone has a core belief that “The world is dangerous,” this could cause negative automatic thoughts in social situations and lead to maladaptive behavior such as isolation and avoidance. The benefit of modifying that core belief would be to reduce impairment in an individual’s life and develop positive thoughts and behaviors. Modifying core beliefs can also be helpful to assist an individual in maximizing their potential and reaching their goals. Often core beliefs can restrict us from achievement and make us feel trapped. An individual may really want to make new friends but have the core belief that “People are not trustworthy.” Modifying this belief can help the individual break down walls that are constructed by their negative beliefs. Modifying core beliefs can also be helpful for perspective change. Often people feel unhappy and “caught in a rut” in life, and identifying and modifying their beliefs about themselves and the world can often help them be more open-minded and learn about themselves.

    Reply

    • Julie Crantz
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 14:44:27

      Hi Luke,
      I appreciate your examples of negative core beliefs and what could potentially happen with individuals that hold these maladaptive viewpoints. When someone holds the core belief that the world is dangerous, this certainly can lead to living a lonely, restricted life where many opportunities are missed. You mention how beneficial it would be to modify negative core beliefs to help individuals reach their fullest potential and achieve their goals. This is a very important point. Negative core beliefs can be very limiting for people and changing these core beliefs into more adaptive ways of thinking can help get people unstuck and moving in a positive direction.

      Reply

    • Sarah Hine
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 10:13:48

      Luke,
      I think the image you create of core beliefs as a trap helps form a better understanding of the experiences of people who have negative core beliefs. For an outsider, the belief of person who feels unlovable may seem easy to fix considering all the evidence contrary to this belief. But, it’s important to remember that oftentimes these beliefs continue in a downward spiral, new evidence being used to affirm negative beliefs, and these affirmations further trapping people into thinking in these ways. For therapists, this view will help to understand what clients are going through, and why belief modification may be so challenging but also necessary for improvement.

      Reply

  6. Alana Kearney
    Oct 25, 2017 @ 22:18:37

    As the name suggest, core beliefs are the core of everything we think, which makes them the most important part of our thought processing. Core beliefs or schemas are an individual’s fundamental beliefs or ideals of the world that guide his/her thoughts, emotions, and actions. These beliefs act as personal rules for taking in and interpreting information, decision making, and regular patterns of behavior. They develop through interactions with others, life experiences of successes and failures, and genetics. Similarly, the beliefs are influenced by the individual’s temperament, intellect, and skills (Wright, 2006). Therefore, core beliefs influence who we are and how we act, but are also influenced by who we are and how we act.
    As these beliefs stem from the most personal sources (our experiences with the closest people in our lives), it is easy to understand that we commonly believe them to always be true. Since we believe them to be true, we often follow our instincts and act upon the beliefs. This causes a problem when an individual develops negative core beliefs that influence negative patterns of behavior. Negative core beliefs can give a person a false sense of reality. If a person has a core belief that he/she is worthless, then he/she will believe this and will likely become depressed or withdrawn. These beliefs will seem natural and, therefore, correct, which can blind the individual from seeing any positive aspects of life.
    Although not all negative core beliefs are false, it is important for an individual to be able to recognize these beliefs and understand that he/she does not always have to act upon the beliefs. In CBT, therapists seek to modify these core beliefs in order to relieve negative symptoms created by the beliefs and gain resistance for future stressors (Wright, 2006). For example, a person may have the negative core belief of “I am unlovable” and that can cause difficulties in forming relationships. If this person believes he/she is unlovable because he/she does not have friends, then it is important to prove to the client that these thoughts do not have to be true. If the client can begin to fathom that it is actually possible that someone else may love him/her, then his/her thoughts about meeting someone and behaviors around other people will, hopefully, change. It is the hope that the client will be able to enter interpersonal situations with little to no stress, and maintain a sense of positive hope in order to continue these relationships in the future. This process should change the way clients view themselves in their own worlds and improve their own self-efficacy in situations where they had previously lacked the ability to believe in themselves.

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    • Olivia Grella
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 08:07:38

      Hi Alana, I like how you touched upon how not all negative core beliefs are false and how you can still teach the client how to accept that. You specifically mentioned at the beginning not acting upon those thoughts. Teaching the client those skills to do so can be very helpful alongside the acceptance process. Because they are realizing that something negative may actually be true, teaching them these skills will help them reduce any future distress that may come.

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  7. Noella Teylan-Cashman
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 00:30:30

    Core beliefs can be understood as an individual’s main idea(s) regarding him/herself, others, and the world around them. These beliefs begin to form during early childhood, are influenced by past experiences, and are effected by a person’s temperament, intellect, abilities, and biological vulnerability. Characteristically, core beliefs are rigid, global, and overgeneralized. Often, core beliefs are so deep rooted in a person’s thought process, the person is not even aware of their existence; core beliefs are viewed as absolute truths– “just the way things are.” As life progresses, core beliefs effect how an individual processes new information. The individual will appraise new information based on the past experiences that have led to the formation of his/her core belief(s). Negative core beliefs can almost always be categorized based on views surrounding 1) helplessness, 2) unlovability, and 3) worthlessness. It is helpful for therapists to be knowledgeable of the specific types of core beliefs, so that they can identify them more easily in therapy.

    Therapeutically, core beliefs can be very difficult to change because they are often largely embedded and have been practiced and reinforced for many years. In efforts to modify core beliefs, therapists should first provide psychoeducation surrounding the topic, then help the client examine his/her core beliefs, generate realistic alternatives, and rehearse the revised core belief in real-life situations (Wright et al., 2006). Once the modification of the core belief(s) has occurred, clients are able to disengage from maladaptive behaviors that previously stemmed from their original core belief(s). Moving forward, clients will no longer be hindered by negative core beliefs clouding their appraisal process, dictating their reactions, and governing their characteristic patterns of behavior. During this process, clients should develop a more positive sense of self and a stronger sense of resiliency. As a result, clients should become more competent when handling stressors.

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    • Olivia Grella
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 08:11:08

      Hi Noella, I like how you mentioned that changing core beliefs can be a difficult process for clients to do. These are things that have been reinforced for many years that they believe are valid and are now starting to realize that it is actually not true. Even though that realization that a negative core belief is false for them may provide some relief, changing and replacing that core belief with a new positive one can still be a challenging process for them because you are replacing something they believed to be true for multiple years.

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    • Stephanie Welch
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 21:23:28

      Noella,
      I really liked your statement of core beliefs being viewed as absolute truths-“just the way things are”. I think that it is important as a CBT therapist to realize how much impact core beliefs have on a client. Your statement of the difficulty to change core beliefs due to the reinforcement of the beliefs further emphasizes this point. As an outside observer, we may see the invalidity of the client’s core beliefs but it is important to realize that the “evidence” of the validity of the core belief for the client may have been due to a long history of the negative core belief being reinforced by events or other people.

      Reply

  8. Sarah Hine
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 07:25:31

    Core beliefs are the central ideas a person has about themselves and the world around them. Core beliefs act as sets of standards that influence people’s automatic thoughts and their behaviors. They serve as a lens through which incoming information is interpreted and help people decide how to act. Beliefs often develop through childhood experiences and are influenced by individual characteristics (i.e. genetics, temperament) and experiences. These ideas are held as truths, but they may or may not reflect reality. Oftentimes, as Beck states, core beliefs are positive and rational and help people realistically interpret their experiences. However, negative, unrealistic core beliefs may arise during certain points or throughout the course of a person’s life, perhaps in response to specific stressors. Negative, irrational core beliefs may result in pathological behaviors such as depression or anxiety because unrealistic beliefs will result in misguided, and sometimes harmful, thoughts and behaviors. Any information contradicting these beliefs will be ignored, and evidence will be gathered to support these strong beliefs, even if the evidence may not match reality.

    The major therapeutic gain from modifying core beliefs is thought and behavior change. If a core belief is a negative/distorted one, such as those related to helplessness, worthlessness, and being unlovable, changing those core beliefs will help a person see themselves in a more accurate and positive light. It will help the client to modify their beliefs in order to interpret their experiences in an adaptive way and cope with stressors. This will lead to a reduction in symptoms and lead to healthier, more rational behaviors. Any evidence that clients were ignoring that contradicted their core beliefs may be reevaluated and used to modify old beliefs. Modifying core beliefs not only discredits old beliefs, but it also establishes new core beliefs that are oftentimes more positive and realistic. In building new core beliefs, the client and therapist can focus on strengths the client may have rather than things they feel they are doing poorly. For example, therapy may focus on examples of why the client is competent versus the client’s previous focus on finding evidence for being helpless. With positive encouragement, strengths can be built upon and clients can experience a reduction of symptoms of disorders like depression or anxiety. While modifying core beliefs may be challenging, a client with new core beliefs can leave therapy with the hope of facing future stressors in a more healthy, productive manner.

    Reply

    • Noella Teylan-Cashman
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 23:04:20

      Sarah,
      I really liked how you said, “these ideas are held as truths, but they may or may not reflect reality.” I felt like this was a simple yet effective way to illustrate the reason for core beliefs being extremely hard to change. Individuals perceive their core beliefs as true despite disconfirming evidence. It can be easy for us, as outside parties, to recognize how far fetched a particular core belief is, but we need to remember that the individual at hand truly believes the core belief is a reflection of their reality.

      Reply

  9. Luke Gustavson
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 10:49:46

    Core beliefs are the deepest ideas an individual will typically hold about themselves, others, and the larger world. Core beliefs are alternatively dubbed schemas by some authors, who are then rebutted by other authors as to the nature of core beliefs and stigmas as hierarchical entities. On the whole, the schema/CB debate feels a little pedantic. Beck says one thing, Wright says another, and they are both technically correct – which is the best kind of correct. At any rate, a schema is essentially a script or blueprint for interacting with the world around us, whether this be an intrapersonal or interpersonal act. Core beliefs operate in much the same way, although the Becks would say that they have much more specific content.
    Specifically, core beliefs tend to fall into three basic (and broad) categories: beliefs associated with helplessness, those associated with being unlovable, and those associated with worthlessness. Some individuals have beliefs in only one area, some in only a couple, and there are some unlucky individuals to possess core beliefs in all three categories. What these categories as described fail to take into account are the positive core beliefs wielded by many adaptively functioning individuals, despite the authors of the readings describing this. For example, worthlessness can also relate to achievement and high self-efficacy. As a result, I feel the categories described by the Becks perhaps are misnamed and may appear at a surface level to include only the symptoms of depression. Instead, I posit these should be considered “feelings associated with worth, hope, and lovability.” Speaking of pedantry…
    Core beliefs develop from a young age and individuals develop and maintain them throughout the lifespan. Core beliefs are developed through genetic predisposition toward personality traits, interactions with important individuals and the world in general, as well as encountering numerous situations. As such, core beliefs are interwoven with our experiences and resultantly tend to be extremely rigid and difficult to change, particularly as they are generally “known” to be true and are hidden underneath layers of thoughts and emotions. This is particularly true when faced with negative core beliefs, which tend to spawn negative automatic thoughts, which in turn alter behavior.
    The therapeutic benefits of modifying core beliefs should be obvious. Seeing as how negative core beliefs can lead to negative and maladaptive behaviors, modifying core beliefs are one of the pathways to behavior change, albeit the most difficult option available to most cognitive-behavioral therapists. Similarly, modifying core beliefs can allow clients to see themselves in a more rational, intellectual manner, affording them the opportunity to engage in realistic self-appraisal. For instance, an individual who believes they are defective might instead have that core belief modified to be realistic and honest about their humanity and faults – possessing both strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, the modification of negative core beliefs would also increase an individual’s general self-efficacy.
    Additionally, one core belief could be related to a slew of negative automatic thoughts and negative behaviors that could prove daunting to tackle one-at-a-time. In such a case, it might prove more time effective to attempt modification of the core belief with the understanding that this would cause a domino effect throughout the individual, eventually leading to the cessation of the negative thoughts and emotions. This is arguably the most difficult option available to a psychotherapist, but it could be the most efficient use of time and resources.

    Reply

    • Luke Dery
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 19:07:10

      Hi Luke,

      Interesting point that modifying core beliefs can lead clients to see themselves in a more intellectual, rational way. It seems like the self-discovery aspect of therapy that comes from gaining understanding and insight into the self can lead individuals to be more realistic and fair in their assessment of themselves. Once we understand our tendency to think irrationally and then learn skills that focus on reason and logic, it seems that a healthier view of the self will come along with it. Once we are self-evaluating with realistic and rational expectations, we are more likely to meet those expectations and feel better about ourselves.

      Reply

  10. Chiara Nottie
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 11:34:05

    What Are Core Beliefs?
    Core beliefs are rules for information processing that underlie the superficial layer of automatic thoughts (Wright, 2006). This means core beliefs are enduring principles of thinking that are influenced by a multitude of life experiences, such as, parental teaching and modeling, formal and informal educational activities, peer experiences, traumas, and successes (Wright, 2006). The combination of these influential factors indicate that core beliefs begin to develop in early childhood years. Individuals early in life develop certain ideas about themselves, other individuals, and their world, the most central of which are enduring fundamental understandings deep within themselves, that are believed to be absolute truths (Beck, 2011). Sometimes core beliefs are unconscious in nature, due to their early and changing development, but can be activated because of particular triggers or lifestyle changes. For example, an individual may have the core belief of being unlikeable. This individual may not be very aware of this core belief until they start suffering from depression and isolate themselves from their friends. It is also common for individuals to selectively interpret information in their daily lives to confirm core beliefs and disregard or discount information that contradicts a core belief. There are three main groups of core beliefs: unlovable, worthless, and helpless, every core belief theoretically lies within one of these three main groups (Beck, 2011).
    Why Is It Important To Modify Core Beliefs?
    Core beliefs influence the development of intermediate beliefs, which consists of attitudes, rules, and assumptions (Beck, 2011). These intermediate beliefs influence automatic thoughts, which are interpretations that come about reflexively in situations. Core beliefs are global, rigid, and overgeneralized (Beck, 2011). These facts determine how modifying core beliefs is important for therapeutic success. Core beliefs are deeply believed by clients and can sabotage their daily functioning. As mentioned earlier, a primary way core beliefs can be disadvantageous to individuals is because information can be selectively filtered to maintain the “truth” in the core belief, and information contradicting the core belief’s validity can be disregarded. If clients are struggling with personal insight and successfully changing behaviors because they believe in a disruptive core belief then significant or desired emotional changes can’t be made. Fortunately modifying automatic thoughts can change core beliefs, but due to the rigid, and overgeneralized nature of core beliefs, sometimes core beliefs need to be modified directly for therapeutic progress. Identifying core beliefs is the first job of a therapist, and that can be hard. Key words or phrasing can hint at a core belief. For example, a statement such as “I am bound to be rejected” can hint at an unlovable core belief (Beck, 2011). After identifying core beliefs, you can assess their magnitude with the downward arrow technique. It is important for a therapist to feel competent about the knowledge they gain of a core belief before talking to their client. Like many CBT related treatment approaches, education is a part of modifying a core belief. A therapist should educate clients about core beliefs during sessions. Homework assignments can help clients practice identifying their core beliefs and monitoring how they respond to them. For example, teaching a client to challenge the truth of their automatic thoughts related to their core belief. Eventually, developing a new more adaptive core belief is the ultimate goal for therapy. New core beliefs can remain realistic in nature, if someone has struggled with a strong unlovable core belief for many years, attempting to develop a new core belief of being lovable might be unrealistic. Instead working to develop a new core belief along the lines of “I am accepted by most people I interact with” is more realistic for the client to believe in. The client and therapist need to work on strengthening and maintaining new core beliefs to make sure regression is avoided. Sometimes you can build over a foundation to create something new, but other times the foundation needs repairs and updates before new develops can be built on top of them. That is the case with core beliefs. There are times when individuals are adaptive enough with the combination of positive and negative core beliefs, and can healthily manage negative ones when they try to stir up trouble. Other times individuals are really held back by negative core beliefs and are not adaptive enough to manage them. In those situations it is important for the therapist to assist in modifying a troubling core belief, so the client can make necessary life adjustments.

    Reply

    • shay
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 13:08:50

      Chiara,

      I like how you pointed out that in seeking out to modify patients core beliefs that the new core belief has to be realistic. Dichotomous thinking is not adaptive in most cases for the therapist or the client. Core beliefs usually should not go from one extreme to the next. Usually realistic and rational thinking involves taking the middle position. So to use the example you gave Chaira, I liked you reframed the core belief of being unlovable to “I am accepted or liked by most people I interact with.” I think that is an easier concept and jump for a client to grasp, and frankly just most truthful. While having the opposite core belief as “I’m lovable” is definitely a more positive core belief than being unlovable, you can imagine this person running into difficulties too when finding out someone dislikes them or when losing a significant other. This person may have a huge ego. Of course this depends how intrusive that persons core belief is, but overall and more generally I would believe taking the middle ground would assist clients better. Taking the middle ground allows lets clients understand that there may be people who don’t like them or mean people, or people who ignore them and that’s okay. Focus on the people that do like you and who do interact.

      Reply

  11. Liisa Biltcliffe
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 12:22:40

    Core beliefs are, according to Beck (2011), central beliefs a person has about one’s self. These beliefs are what drive client’s decision-making, form their screen or filter for how they perceive situations in life, and drive their patterns of behavior (Wright, Basco, & Thase, 2006). They are shaped by a person’s childhood experiences and his or her interactions with parents, peers, and teachers. They are ideas that clients believe quite strongly while they are depressed, but may or may not believe so much when they are not depressed. Clients will ignore data to the contrary of these beliefs or modify it so that it fits the core beliefs, and they tend to notice mostly data that supports these beliefs. Core beliefs usually fall into three categories: helplessness (feeling ineffective), unlovability (feeling defective in character), and worthlessness (clients feel bad or unworthy, or even dangerous to others). The more that clients only notice data that supports their negative core beliefs, the stronger the core beliefs get and the more that clients believe them to be true. Wright, Basco, and Thase (2006) state that there are two main reasons for helping clients to modify their core beliefs. These are to help relieve current symptoms and to improve a client’s resistance to stressors in the future. It is not easy for the client to change deeply embedded core beliefs; however, it is most beneficial. Modifying core beliefs can also increase personal growth and help clients develop a sense of purpose in life. It can increase a client’s self-esteem as well. If clients have a core belief of helplessness, helping them to modify that would help them feel more effective in many areas of their lives. It is important to modify core beliefs in order to also work on identifying and modifying automatic thoughts, which stem from core beliefs.

    Reply

    • Lindsey
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 10:57:18

      It is amazing to think how something so simple (i.e. core belief) can shape a person’s entire ability to function adaptively in the world. I like that you mentioned clients will ignore or reframe information that contradicts the core belief and only hold on to information that reinforces their existing beliefs. This touches on a key element of the modification process between the client and therapist: using evidence to determine if the belief is valid or invalid. Similarly with the video we watched about Mark’s core beliefs, he completely forgot that his friend popped into his office at the end of their workday and ‘chose’ (using chose loosely) to ruminate about the missed lunch date instead. I liked seeing how the downward arrow technique challenges a client to get comfortable with the root cause of the problem because it really makes the client think about why they might be choosing to ignore or bypass relevant evidence that is causing the cognitive distortions. Once you get to the crux of the problem, the possibilities for adaptive problem-solving become endless.

      Reply

  12. shay
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 12:41:23

    Core beliefs are classified as rigid, global ideas about oneself and the world. It is one’s central idea about the self. Some refer to core beliefs as a schema. Negative core beliefs fall into two board categories, either those associated with helplessness or those associated with unlovability. Worthlessness is a relatively newer category of core belief. Core beliefs originate for most early on in life. Children have certain genetic predispositions toward certain personality traits, will interact with others and have a variety of experiences that shape their core beliefs. Teachers, parents, friends, bosses, traumas or happy times can shape a core belief. Any experience one has can very easily solidify and mold a core belief. Interestingly enough, genetics play a role as wright mentions. Genetics can contribute to talent, skills, attractiveness, athletic ability, or temperament. Most people do manage to maintain somewhat positive and realistic core beliefs. Then, negative and unrealistic core beliefs will rear their ugly head during types of psychological or emotional distress. Beck explains core beliefs surfacing as an activation mechanism. She writes that essentially one has negative and positive core beliefs, and that they become activated depending on the situation. For instance, once someone starts to get depressed, their negative core beliefs become active. Also an important aside, core beliefs are not just about oneself. They can beliefs about other people and the world. These beliefs are fixed and overgeneralized.

    Modifying a client’s core belief is helpful because these core beliefs contain fundamental rules for information processing. Wright says that these core beliefs help clients filter and screen information, making decisions and also decide behavior. Because these core beliefs are impacting behavior and therefore functionality and social relationships, modifying them can be very beneficial to the client. These may start to approach people and life differently, and receive better results. This would definitely help the therapeutic process and relationship. Therefore modifying a client’s core beliefs can really address the brunt of their problems. Modifying core beliefs had help in alleviating not only current distress, but also prevent or reduce the risk of severity in the future. Modifying core beliefs can also have patient to process data in more adaptive way which can be applied to any area of life. These changes in core belief can also serve in changing automatic thoughts. Modifying the core beliefs may naturally take care of automatic thoughts (Kill two birds with one stone sort of deal). Also its important to realize these core beliefs may be impacting the therapeutic relationship or the patients view of himself/herself. If feeling incompetent, worthless, invisible, or not efficacious the client may struggle through therapy and not get the most out of it until these core beliefs are automatic thoughts are challenged and modified. An important idea to mention is that core beliefs are be difficult to modify. There are also two levels of modification- the intellectual level and then the emotional level. The emotional level may require extra work, but may be very rewarding to work through with the client.

    Reply

    • Liisa Biltcliffe
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 17:36:31

      Shay,
      I like that you mentioned the 2 levels of modification–the intellectual and emotional. These are so important because so often clients will say they “get it” on the intellectual level, but do not feel it on the emotional level. Helping clients get to the point where they feel it on the emotional level is an important part of CBT and modifying core beliefs. And as you mentioned, it may require the extra work, but it is so rewarding, not just for the client, but for the therapist as well.

      Reply

  13. Julie Crantz
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 13:37:35

    Core beliefs are underlying rules for individuals to process information. They begin to develop early in life and are shaped by many life experiences. Core beliefs are influenced by caregiver teaching and modeling, formal and informal learning opportunities, interactions with peers, traumatic events, and achievements. They enable people to examine, filter, and appoint meaning to information provided from their environment. Core beliefs range from simple and practical management guidelines of everyday activities to conditional rules such as if-then statements. They also include core beliefs about one’s self that are global and absolute Wright, Basco, & Thase, 2006). Core beliefs can be either positive or negative. Negative core beliefs can fall in to the categories of helplessness, unlovability, and worthlessness (Beck, 2011). Negative core beliefs may be activated much of the time in cases of personality disorders, or may specifically emerge during times of psychological distress. People may also have core beliefs about other people and about the world in addition to core beliefs about the self (Beck, 2011). Core beliefs have a strong effect on self-esteem and behavior (Wright, Basco, & Thase, 2006).

    It is important to work with clients on identifying and modifying core beliefs that are maladaptive. Negative core beliefs are likely inaccurate, unhelpful, and excessively critical. Viewing the self, other people, and the world through the lens of negative core beliefs can have a deep impact on an individual’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, and overall mental health. Modifying negative core beliefs into healthier beliefs will help a client with overcoming mental health issues and with learning how to adaptively cope with life’s problems. Modifying core beliefs is also a proactive method of preventing future mental health issues as the client will be less vulnerable to patterns of negative thinking.

    Reply

    • Lindsey
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 10:40:12

      I like that you mentioned modifying core beliefs proactively aims to prevent future psychological distress because the end goal of all CBT is ultimately to teach clients how to be their own best advocate/therapist. Core beliefs operate on a continuum. Sliding the scale ever so slightly from negative to positive outlooks can significantly decrease the client’s vulnerability to future maladaptive thinking or behavioral patterns. Overall, this can change the entire direction of someone’s future.

      Reply

    • Matthew Collin
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 19:53:36

      Julie,
      I like how you mentioned that – in therapy – a client will learn how to modify core beliefs. This is one of the main reasons I enjoy cognitive behavioral therapy over any other. Client’s will learn those skills that are taught during therapy in order to prevent, replace, and further reinforcement of negative, or illogical core beliefs (not all negative beliefs are illogical).

      Reply

  14. Lindsey
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 15:04:01

    Core beliefs are content specific ideas or themes developed in early childhood based on learned transactional experiences. Despite being hard to pinpoint, every human being has a set of core beliefs. Like an onion, there are many layers to the central core of these thinking patterns. Adaptive core beliefs are realistic and generally positive. Maladaptive core beliefs are fixed and overgeneralized ideas about self, others, the world around them, and even future experiences.
    Modifying core beliefs means letting go of a negative worldview and embracing adaptive thinking patterns. Thinking differently means acting differently so the modification process can introduce an entirely new way of life for a person.

    Collaborating with the client to facilitate the therapeutic gains that come from modifying core beliefs will likely become one of the more rewarding components of being a CBT therapist. This is the time when a client really begins to take ownership of their beliefs and schemas on both an intellectual and emotional level. In the event of negative core beliefs, working with the client to examine the evidence and listing advantages and disadvantages encourages clients to look at the bigger picture, rather than hyper-focusing on one outlook. Lessons learned develop as a result of reconsidering perceived roadblocks. Gradually, maladaptive core beliefs will become adaptive and increase the client’s self-esteem and confidence.

    Reply

    • Julie Crantz
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 14:20:59

      Hi Lindsey,
      I appreciate your analogy of the onion regarding core beliefs. People certainly have many layers to their ways of thinking. I also like your acknowledgment of the rewarding aspect of helping a client with modifying core beliefs. Although this will be a challenging part of CBT, it is one of the most crucial features of CBT that make it so effective. Seeing a client transform from one who is depressed and inactive into a person who is full of confidence and life will be greatly fulfilling in the future work we will be doing as therapists.

      Reply

    • Luke Dery
      Oct 27, 2017 @ 18:59:50

      Hi Lindsey,

      I agree with your point about changing a client’s outlook and their perceptions about life. Diagnosed mental illness or not, I feel that most people at some point in life feel trapped due to beliefs about themselves and the world they have developed. We tend to create these beliefs and schemas to help ourselves understand the world and our place in it, but often these beliefs are constraining. Part of therapy is fostering open-mindedness, helping individuals see past false barriers, and offering other outlooks/ways of thinking.

      Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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