Topic 7b: Core Beliefs [Part 2] {by 3/23}

[Automatic Thoughts] – After our last class (3/5) you were asked to complete your own Negative Automatic Thought Record.  Did the NATR help you “see” the relationship between event, negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes?  Explain.  (2). What did you find the most helpful in completing the AFTER portion of the NATR?  For example, was a particular Socratic technique or developing an alternative thought helpful?


[Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-15: Core Beliefs – Identifying – Downward-Arrow Technique. Practice a Downward-Arrow Technique on yourself.  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?


[Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-17: Core Beliefs – Modifying – Evidence and Advantages/Disadvantages.  Answer the following: (1) What information or themes obtained from both techniques will be helpful in developing a new core belief? (2) What could be a possible new (positive/realistic) core belief to test with the Core Belief Flowchart (Part B) and a Behavioral Experiment?


[Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-18: Core Beliefs – Modifying 3 – Behavioral Experiment [MDD-18: Early Session Stage – Late Phase on website].  Practice a Behavioral Experiment on yourself.  Answer the following (you can be brief): (1) What was your behavioral experiment (only share what you are comfortable with)?  (2) In what ways was this behavioral experiment helpful in providing “evidence” for your new core belief?  (3) What challenges did you encounter?


Your original post should be posted by 3/23.  Have your two replies posted no later than 3/25.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shelby Piekarczyk
    Mar 21, 2020 @ 13:05:13

    1. Completing my own negative automatic thought record helped me to connect my negative emotions and the behaviors that followed these specific emotions. It also showed me how fast I can react to a negative thought, creating behaviors and emotions that are overexaggerated. Writing my automatic thought, emotions, behaviors, and the outcomes really enlightened me on how these negative thoughts really impacts how I will react and feel about the situation in that moment.
    Doing the after portion it showed me that before acting on a thought, I need to examine the evidence. I know in the moment this would be a very hard skill to use, but I believe that examining the evidence before reacting would benefit in how I react to a situation. I think the Socratic Technique of ‘is there another explanation for what happened’ was helpful for me in the after portion. I believe this was helpful because in this certain situation I jumped to a quick conclusion and reacted on my negative automatic thought instead of thinking of alternative explanations that could have impacted my behavior differently (positively).

    2. After doing the Downward-Arrow Technique I felt a little overwhelmed. Digging deep into your own thoughts is never easy (especially when you are doing it on yourself). However, I did learn by going through it that this core belief does need modification and is relevant in my life. Using techniques such as Socratic Techniques and others I believe this core belief can be modified to become more adaptable.
    Asking myself the question, ‘if this core belief is true what does that mean about myself’ really gave me insight on how I view this core belief and the impacts it has on me. It also allowed me to think what behaviors have stemmed from this and how I handle certain situations.

    3. I think modifying the evidence would be beneficial in developing a new core belief because it allows the client to really gather information/evidence for and against the core belief. When gaining the evidence, it can help the client to see that maybe their core belief is not as true as they once thought. In the situation with Mark he really gained insight on the people who do like him and maybe he is not as unlikable as he may have thought. Additionally, using the technique of advantages and disadvantages it helps the client gain insight on how this core belief is impacting them and the people around them. Mark stated that his core belief of feeling unlikable sometimes pushes him away from people or take anger out. He does not like this, developing this insight can help lead Mark to want to change this core belief.
    A good new realistic core belief to use on the flow chart would be something that can be attained by the client. For example, with Mark his new core belief is ‘I’m generally a likeable person’. This is realistic for Mark because it is not going from on extreme (I’m unlikable) to the next (everyone likes me). When developing a new core belief, you want to look at the facts/evidence and develop a more adaptable but attainable core belief for your client. When developing a behavioral experiment again you want to examine the evidence and support the core belief you are trying to strengthen. Developing attainable goals to work on outside of therapy for the client to work on this new core belief.

    4. My behavioral experiment was based on my parent’s divorce and my relationships after. This experiment helped me to gain insight on information that I have overlooked for years. Writing down the evidence for my new core belief really helped me to believe it more and start to see how false and untrue my old core belief is. The challenges I encountered were my negative automatic thoughts arising and developing the correct coping skills instead of acting irrationally. When taking the time to see these maladaptive behaviors I learned a lot about my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and how they impact one another in my life.


    • Jessica Costello
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 18:43:45

      Hi Shelby! First of all I like that you acknowledged the downward arrow technique was overwhelming (it was for me, too) and this understanding will be helpful for our clients who don’t have as much practice analyzing their own thoughts. Similar to your experience, I gained insight when I asked myself to examine the evidence for my core beliefs.

      This is difficult mental work but it’s important for us to learn if we want to be able to guide our clients. Good job this week!


    • Erin Wilbur
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 19:10:48

      Hi Shelby,
      I definitely agree that after filling out the downward-arrow worksheet, I felt overwhelmed. I knew generally what my core belief was, but I hadn’t really admitted it to myself or processed the feelings that stemmed from it, so I had a lot to think about while doing the worksheet. I also like that you pointed out that Mark gained insight into the behaviors that he does not like doing that stem from his core belief of being unlikable, because this gives him strong evidence for developing a new core belief that makes him feel better about himself and therefore doesn’t take out his frustration on other people.


    • Melanie Sergel
      Mar 23, 2020 @ 18:30:52

      HI Shelby! I also noticed with my NATR that I was quick to act on a thought without really thinking it through. We had similar insight on what we would do moving forward. I also said to myself that I need to really think about the negative automatic thought before I act on it because I did not notice how much it impacted me until this activity. I also felt overwhelmed doing the Downward-Arrow Technique. I felt overwhelmed too because it really tested my core belief and made me think about my core belief in a way that I have not before. Great job!


    • Mariah Fraser
      Mar 25, 2020 @ 22:40:11

      Hi, Shelby!

      I could relate to you when you were talking about how the downward arrow technique can pose a challenge because it’s not always easy to come to a better understanding as to why you think or feel a certain way. I think that it’s a good lesson for us to learn because it provides us with more empathy towards future clients, as it will help us see things from their point of view when they are asked to dig deep. It’s kind of crazy to think about how our core beliefs are so simple, yet so complex in that they effect various parts of life, without us even being aware of it! Although we may understand the purpose of these techniques and we may be able to use them with clients, it definitely provides a different perspective when we apply these techniques to ourselves.


  2. Jessica Costello
    Mar 21, 2020 @ 14:49:35

    Negative Automatic Thought Record
    1. The NATR was helpful seeing the relationship between my negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes. Additionally, I was able to see how my negative behaviors reinforced the original thought. Simply reflecting on the relationship between my thoughts and behaviors helped me generate alternate methods for dealing with the problems and emotions I was experiencing.

    2. Examining the evidence and separating myself from the problem and the subsequent emotions were particularly helpful for developing more realistic, alternative thoughts. I found it helpful to ask myself if I would think the same of another person who was struggling with the same problems.

    Core Beliefs / MDD-15 / Downward Arrow Technique
    1. After I did the downward arrow technique, even though I did have an initial sense of the core belief I was attacking, it did elicit a strong emotional reaction. This helped me make connections to particular automatic thoughts I had previously noticed that fit the broader themes of unlovability and worthlessness.

    2. Asking myself what certain perceptions I had of myself would mean if they were true helped me access and identify the core belief. This was helpful to probe not only the content of the thoughts but also their deeper meaning. Knowing the implications of particular thoughts helped me form patterns that were helpful in categorizing and naming the core belief as well as hypothesizing events that could have helped develop it.

    Core Beliefs // MDD-17
    1. Both probing the significance of negative automatic thoughts through the downward arrow technique to hit upon a core belief and examining the evidence will be helpful in developing a more realistic core belief. In the video, Mark was able to identify some adaptive elements of his present core beliefs (spending time with people who already like him, which provides evidence that people do like him), as well as his belief’s disadvantages (feeling lonely and withdrawing) which could help him see why developing a new one is necessary.

    The themes discovered throughout the process of exploring Mark’s core beliefs will also be helpful in developing ideas for possible behavioral experiments.

    2. A new and more adaptive core belief could be the idea that “I am lovable”. Reinforcing this belief through behavioral experiments would be helpful for both me and Mark in the processing of replacing negative automatic thoughts with more positive ones that will lead to less distress and better functioning. Developing this belief may take several behavioral experiments.

    Ultimately, the new belief should not be the direct opposite of a negative core belief or too unrealistically positive. It should be something the client is comfortable accepting and can find evidence for in the world.

    Core Beliefs / MDD-18

    1. My behavioral experiment involved making concrete plans to connect with friends even while social distancing (technology like FaceTime is our friend during coronapocalypse). Noticing how I felt after these experiments provided me with evidence for a more adaptive core belief.

    2. Being accountable to the other person in this communication not only helped me keep the commitment but developed supporting evidence for a new core belief that people actually like me and strengthened my abilities to combat negative automatic thoughts.

    3. It was challenging to think about ways this kind of behavior could adapt to changing environments, for example when society returns to normal, and we can leave our houses again. As I reflect on these experiences, I think I will need to practice appropriate coping skills.


    • Monica K Teeven
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 14:17:03

      Hi Jess! First, I wanted to say that I am glad to hear that you were able to see how your negative behavior reinforced your original thought when you completed the NATR form! Being able to see that connection is not always easy! Secondly, I wanted to mention that in your response to the second question from the MDD-17 video, you mentioned an important factor that should be kept in mind when developing a new core belief. You stated how new core belief should not be the exact opposite of the old negative core belief or to be unrealistically positive. Great job on your blog post this week!


    • Erin Wilbur
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 19:23:49

      Hey Jess,
      You make a good point that the NATR helps us to separate our emotions from the problem and make more rational decisions rather than acting on how we’re feeling immediately. I also liked your idea to make “concrete” plans with friends to hold yourself accountable for completing them. I think this is important for the sake of the behavioral experiment, but also in everyday life, as I have a tendency to make vague plans that don’t require follow-through. That was smart of you. Good job!


    • Renee Gaumond
      Mar 23, 2020 @ 17:11:38

      Hi Jess,
      I think your Behavior Experiment was interesting! It’s important nowadays to stay connected even with social distancing. Being isolated is difficult and often boring oh, so making steps to FaceTime friends can help a break in a tough situation. I think having a good social network during this time would help with the negative thoughts that come from social distancing.


    • Melanie Sergel
      Mar 23, 2020 @ 18:39:24

      Hi Jess! I like that you point out that reflecting on the relationship between the thought and behaviors generates alternative methods for dealing with problems and emotions. If you do not reflect on the relationship between these factors it would be difficult to make a change. Reflecting on my NATR after I was done really opened my eyes to see something I did not notice before. For MDD-17, I like your idea of the new core belief of “I am lovable” because it is realistic and would be helpful. It is realistic for Mark because he does have people in his life that care about him and he has evidence for this core belief because of Melissa. Good job on your post this week!


  3. Monica K Teeven
    Mar 22, 2020 @ 12:45:33

    Automatic Thoughts-
    1. Yes, I think the NATR helped me see the relationship a bit clearer than I may have been able to without this form between my negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors and outcomes. Originally I did not realize how intensely I was feeling one of my bodily sensations, which was my level of shortness of breath. Being able to write down what occurred at each step has helped me become more aware of how the process of a negative automatic thought quickly affects other parts of my body. This leads me to a behavioral response that I normally would not choose. However, when your mind and body are that distressed, the better options do not seem as accessible. I know we covered this topic in previous classes, but this form really helped me gain some insight on the experience of having a negative automatic thought as a whole.

    2. The most helpful part of completing the After portion of the NATR was looking through the Socratic techniques to figure out which technique was most closely resembled my negative automatic thought. In this case, it was the Decatastrophize Perceived Negative Outcomes. About an hour and a half after I experienced this negative automatic thought I realized that what happened or what could potentially happen would not be, in reality, awful. When I was experiencing alternative thoughts I realized that I do this normally, every time I have a negative automatic thought. However, I did not realize that this was what I was doing and that I could categorize what kind of negative automatic thought I was having.

    Core Beliefs-MDD-15
    1. Honestly, when I was completing the Downward-Arrow technique form, it was a bit hard to write it down. Even though I do not like discussing or admitting that I have these thoughts, because I know that they negatively affect me, I think I would be ashamed to admit this to a therapist because I know how I am thinking is maladaptive. Discussing this with a therapist or anyone else makes me a bit uncomfortable (shameful and sad).

    2. When I was filling out this form I benefited from how the “Meaning of the Automatic Thought” questions were ordered. While I was filling out the worksheet, the order in which the questions were listed did not seem to make a difference. However, after I completed the worksheet and looked at what I wrote as an answer to each question, I saw how the questions gradually made me open up about what my real negative core belief was. In the beginning or at the top of the worksheet, there was no clear negative core belief. By the time I got to the bottom of the worksheet, it was clear what my negative core belief was.

    Core Beliefs-MDD-17
    1. Both techniques were helpful in developing the new core belief for Mark. In this particular case, Mark had an easier time identifying the disadvantages of his old core belief than identifying the advantages of his old core belief. During this process, it was found that Mark now generally believes his old core belief at a believability level of 25%, but on tough days it can go up to 40%. Mark states an advantage of his negative old core belief is that it protects him from the possibility of getting hurt by someone he likes. This leads him to believe that he is an unlikeable person. Whereas, he stated that the disadvantage of this negative core belief is that it makes him withdraw from people who love, care and value him. When Mark and Dr. V were working on the Examining the Evidence of the Core Belief worksheet, he realized that many people actually do like him or even love him, such as Melissa. All of this information will be helpful in forming a new core belief because completing these worksheets has shown Mark that he is not an unlikeable person.

    2. For Mark, a new core belief could be “I am generally a likeable person”. In the video, Mark mentioned several times after completing the Evidence and Advantages and Disadvantage worksheet with Dr. V that he was a generally nice likeable guy. I believe this new core belief is realistic, positive, and can be evaluated in a behavioral experiment.

    Core Beliefs- MDD-18
    1. The new core belief I chose was: I am wanted. The specific behaviors that I associated with this new core belief were how many people wanted to talk to me, how frequently they wanted to talk to me, and the level of effort people in my life would make to see, talk, or help me when I request it or when I exhibit distress. The specific thought that I associated with this new core belief was that people do want to see, talk, or help me. However, people are not always available due to life commitments, and that it is not because they do not want me in their life. My believability level of the new core belief before the experiment was about a 65%. My plan to strengthen this goal is to record how many times I tried to reach out to hangout or talk to a friend and if either of these situations were successful. I would record this information in a notebook, so when I asked someone to hangout or talk, I would document if they said yes or no. If their answer was no, I would write down if they gave me a reason why and if they offered to accept the request, but at a different time. Writing down this information will help me to see if there is a pattern of them not making an effort to see or talk to me over time. This will help me to see that people do want to be with me and whenever I have the thought of being unwanted I can remember that the evidence says otherwise.

    2. I have just started this behavioral experiment. So far, it has been going well. Being able to document these events, has helped me to see the picture as a whole, rather than individual occurrences. Seeing how there are more cases of people accepting my requests to talk to them since we cannot see each other at this time, has helped me increase my level of believability. With time, I believe this will continue to increase my level of believability of this new core belief.

    3. I have not encountered any challenges since I have been home the past few days. However, if I was performing this experiment using my normal schedule, I think I would sometimes forget to write down when people accept my requests to hangout or talk on the phone. It would be especially difficult to remember to record these events when they are spur of the moment and when I am not near the notebook where I document this information.


    • Shelby Piekarczyk
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 15:24:24

      Hi Monica,

      I agree completely that the NATR was very helpful when connecting our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. I agree that before doing this worksheet I didn’t truly realize how connected all three of these factors were in my own life. Completing this I really came to understand the connection and how one impacts the other. Next I also agree that the Downward-Arrow Technique was a bit difficult, especially completing it on myself. Having maladaptive thoughts is something none of us want, however I think it is great that you notice them and can make adaptive changes. Great post!


    • Renee Gaumond
      Mar 23, 2020 @ 17:16:12

      Hi Monica,
      I find the points you brought up in your behavioral experiment interesting. It would be easy to personalize people not wanting you. I like how you mentioned that an alternative explanation of people not talking to you would be that people are not always available. Recording the amount of times you reach out to a friend and their response is a good step to strengthen the core belief of being wanted. You’d be able to count the number of times people have said yes or no. It will show you an accurate amount of times people have accepted or denied your request. People can have a tendency to focus on the negative and even if people say yes more often than no, but no-answers may weigh heavier on the mind. I also like the idea of writing down an explanation of why the person said no. It would give you a better outlook on the reality of the situation instead of personalizing the answer.


  4. Melanie Sergel
    Mar 22, 2020 @ 14:43:08

    Automatic Thoughts

    (1) The NATR helped me see the relationship between an event, negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes. Across the multiple negative automatic thoughts that I had, I saw that my behavior, emotions, and outcomes were similar for many of my negative automatic thoughts. I was able to notice automatic thoughts that I have not noticed before and become more aware of them. This activity showed me how much negative automatic thoughts actually impact my behavior and emotions, which I really never noticed before. This activity made me realize that I act on a negative automatic quickly without thinking it through. I would become upset or angry without even taking the time to think about if they are true or not. Since I acted without much time to consider, I also noticed that across my outcomes, I was not satisfied with the way I responded to these negative automatic thoughts.

    (2) I found that it was very helpful completing the After portion of the NATR because I was able to point out that these thoughts aren’t really true. When thinking about alternative thoughts and other explanations for what happened, my believability level went down. After examining the alternative thoughts, the rating of my emotions towards those thoughts significantly went down. The After portion of the NATR really helped me notice that these thoughts that quickly pop in my head are thoughts that should not be ruminated on. When filling out alternative behavioral responses, I was able to notice more negative automatic thoughts than I have before. This helped me recognize future negative automatic thoughts which then helped my behavior towards that thought change because I was able to think back to what I wrote on the worksheet.

    MDD-15: Identifying Core Beliefs – Identifying – Downward-Arrow Technique

    (1) Afterwards, I did notice that I have both emotional and cognitive reactions. When starting the worksheet with writing my automatic thought, I read the questions under the meaning of the automatic thought. When thinking about the questions my emotions did not feel so good and it did make me think more about if this thought is true. I could see that there was a core belief that these thoughts were stemming from. When I saw what I wrote I really started to process that fact that I am really believing this. As I started to test my thoughts more and saw the core belief, it made me see a shift that there are some parts of this core belief that are not as true as I think it is.

    (2) The question that I thought was very helpful is the question “if what you say is true, what does that mean about you?”. This question really tested the validity of my automatic thoughts. Personally, I think it is an emotional and powerful question to ask yourself and a client. When I thought about this question it made me start to change how I viewed myself. When watching the video of Mark, you could see the question really had him test the validity of his thought also. You could also see that Mark was getting emotional when thinking about the questions. Overall, this activity really tests and challenges an individual’s thoughts. Asking these questions to test a thought helps the clinician and client see if these thoughts are actually stemming from a core belief. It also helps the client start to see their beliefs on their own and start to think of the validity of them.

    MDD-17: Core Beliefs – Modifying – Evidence and Advantages/Disadvantages

    (1) Examining the evidence provided information and themes that will be helpful in developing a new core belief. When examining the evidence, we are able to see what supports the original core belief, what does not support the original core belief, and what supports the new core belief. So, for Mark he was examining evidence for his core belief of being unlikeable. He pointed out that the evidence for his core belief is that people blow him off. When he discussed the people that were part of these situations that made him feel this way, he ended up seeing that George fit into both columns of hanging out with him but also being a part of him feeling the way he does. This demonstrates that George does like him and that sometimes he is not available to hang out. It also shows that his evidence of “people blow me off” is not 100% true because his friends do hang out with him.

    (2) When listing to Mark’s advantages and disadvantages, for his advantages he said if he is unlikeable, he will not be able to get close to people or get hurt by them. But while listing this he said that this is also a disadvantage. This showed that there is a theme that even when he thinks of advantages it could also be a disadvantage. This helps the client point out that maybe this core belief is not something I would want to believe. He had trouble thinking of other advantages and he said that his mind was going towards the disadvantages. He did point out that another advantage would be that he could spend time with the people who do like him. This also gives information that the client can recognize that people do like him. This would test against his core belief that he is unlikeable. What was really helpful about this technique in developing a new core belief was Mark being able to point out multiple disadvantages. With a client pointing out several disadvantages it helps use those to build off of when moving the client to think that this core belief is not helpful and to also think about what a new core belief could be.

    (3) A possible new core belief to test with the Core Belief Flowchart and a Behavioral Experiment would be “generally likeable”. Mark uses this core belief to test his unlikeable core belief, but I think that it is a great core belief to test his. This is a great core belief to test unlikeable because it is does not mean that we are going to shift the core belief to “everyone likes me” which would be unrealistic. Using “generally likeable” to test “unlikeable” is realistic because Mark does have people in his life that do like him. There is evidence that he pointed out that also matches this core belief.

    MDD-18: Core Beliefs – Modifying 3 – Behavioral Experiment

    (1) My behavioral experiment involved a core belief that I developed from being surrounded by an unhealthy environment for a long time. This experiment really helped me see the falseness in what I have believed for a while and provided me with guidance to develop a more adaptive core belief.

    (1) I think this behavioral experiment was very helpful in providing “evidence” for my new core belief. Thinking about the obstacles I could come across beforehand helped me notice my negative thoughts associated with my old core belief. When writing down specific thoughts and behaviors associated with my new core belief, I was able to process that my old core belief is distorted and untrue leading me to believe my new core belief more.

    (2) A challenge I encountered was my negative automatic thoughts that stem from my old core belief. These negative automatic thoughts were a challenge for me because I would stumble on them and question if they were true. Although, I was able to recognize my negative automatic thoughts better, it didn’t encourage the new core belief.


    • Shelby Piekarczyk
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 15:28:41

      Hi Melanie,

      I also felt the same way after completing the NATR, I jumped into action quickly on my negative automatic thoughts instead of thinking them all the way through. I found this to be a common occurrence whenever I was experiencing a negative automatic thought. This is something I would like to change, where I think about the situation before acting on it so quickly (much easier said than done). When conducting your behavioral experiment I can connect with what you wrote because my situation was also an unhealthy environment. I also agree that doing this experiment helped me to gather evidence to support my new core belief and falsify my old core belief. Negative automatic thoughts also challenged me throughout the experiment. Good job!


    • Monica K Teeven
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 16:58:42

      Hey Mel! Great job on your blog post! In your response to the Identifying Core Beliefs questions, you mentioned that when you were filling out the Downward Arrow Technique form, you realized the question “If what you say is true, what does that mean about you?” really helped you question the validity of your negative automatic thoughts. I am really glad to hear this, but I also thought it was interesting because when I filled out this form, there was no one question that really stuck out to me. The questions on this form as a whole and in what order they were presented in, had a bigger impact on me. In addition, I wanted to mention in your response to Core Beliefs and Modifying questions, you said that thinking about possible obstacles that you could be possibly faced with beforehand in your behavioral experiment for your new core belief, helped you be aware of how your negative automatic thoughts were linked to your old negative core belief. Great insight Mel!


    • Jessica Costello
      Mar 22, 2020 @ 18:38:59

      Hey Mel! First I wanted to say I’m glad processing your negative automatic thoughts and writing them down on the record helped you realize that you really believed some things that might not be true. I also wanted to acknowledge the work you’ve been doing to overcome the unhealthy environment you mentioned.

      You pointed out that in the video, Mark was able to place his experiences with his friend George in both columns–evidence that people didn’t like him, because sometimes George blew him off, and evidence that people did in fact like him because sometimes George was able to spend time with Mark and these times helped develop his more positive core belief. This was a really great way to combat the black and white or all or nothing thinking that Mark and real-life clients could be engaging in. Great work with your reflections!


  5. Erin Wilbur
    Mar 22, 2020 @ 19:04:42

    1. The NATR helped me see the relationship between the event, negative automatic thought, emotions, and outcomes. When recording my answers in the different columns, it really helped me to see the association between them. Specifically, I noticed how my emotions related to the thought continued throughout the day, despite the outcome. My emotions actually motivated me to finish the task that sparked the automatic thought, but they were negative and continued even after the task was done. The Socratic technique that was most helpful to me in the “after” portion of the thought record was what I would tell my friends or family if they had the same thought. I think this was especially helpful for me because I have had the experience of a coworker expressing a similar negative thought and I’ve responded reminding them of the evidence against it, which helped me remember the same things about myself.
    2. When I did the downward arrow technique on myself, I felt kind of relieved to state my core belief and recognize it, but it also made me feel worried, because although there is evidence to support the opposite, I still believe it. The questions that were most helpful for me in identifying this core belief were “what is the worst part about it?” and in processing it, “is this core belief relevant/believed?”
    3. The information that Mark gives when asked for the evidence to support the thought can be really helpful because it shows the therapist and Mark himself the parts of the core belief that are strongly believed and may be difficult to modify, because there is legitimate evidence to support the negative belief. Asking Mark the advantages of his core belief is also a great way to get more information about why this belief is so strongly held, because he says that he is afraid to get close to people and be hurt by them. This provides insight for the therapist and Mark and may help to give a reason for why this thought has been so pervasive for him. He also identified that he feels lonely and withdrawn, which can help him see why it’s necessary to develop a new core belief. I think a helpful new core belief for Mark that could be strengthened through a behavioral experiment could be something like “I am a pretty likeable person”. Mark has a hard time believing that people like him and value spending time with him, so this could be a more realistic core belief for Mark to work on developing, because he already admits that there are people in his life that like him and want to spend time with him, even if he doesn’t always feel that way or believe it completely.
    4. My behavioral experiment involved seeking out more validation at work and working to ask more questions if I didn’t feel confident in what I was doing. It was helpful in providing evidence for my new core belief because it showed me that I was “filling in the holes” with my negative thoughts and that when I actually sought out answers, my core belief was not as believable as I thought. The main challenge that I encountered was the anxiety about asking more questions, because I didn’t want to come across as “needy” or annoying. Overall, it showed me that I was more valued than I thought myself to be.


    • Robert Salvucci
      Mar 24, 2020 @ 20:47:39

      Hi Erin!

      It’s interesting to see how our thoughts kind of repeat and continue to cause emotional reactions long after the event has finished or a task has been completed. In relation to core beliefs, I had a very similar experience of feeling both relief and worry from identifying mine, as it has a sense of “Now I realize this and have control over it, but what does this mean if the evidence actually supports it?”. When I started at the job I have now, I also really struggled with asking “too many questions”, because I didn’t want to appear overbearing or incompetent.

      In terms of Mark’s experience, I definitely agree that it will be useful to work on his fear of rejection based on some of his past experiences. I’m curious as to how Mark right respond to examining how bad losing certain relationships really is. Outside of Melissa He seems to be very focused on relationships that are not stable or consistent, and it’s hard to tell sometimes how much of this is his personalization and how much is actually a result of friends pulling away.


  6. Taylor O'Rourke
    Mar 22, 2020 @ 20:33:46

    1. Did the NATR help you “see” the relationship between event, negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes? Explain.

    I think that the Negative Automatic Thought Record (NATR) did in fact help me
    see the relationship between events that happened, my thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and their outcomes. By looking at everything side by side in the chart, it was clear to see that one thing influenced another, and that if I was able to change my thought that occurred, then the outcome most likely would have been much different. This was definitely apparent in the “BEFORE” section of the NATR. For example, looking at what body sensations I experienced during my negative thought, this influenced what behavioral response occurred. In the end, this influenced the outcome of the whole situation. I think this table is a great way to show clients that their negative automatic thoughts truly impact their lives in substantial ways and that if they can be changed or eliminated, then event outcomes may play out very differently.

    2. What did you find the most helpful in completing the AFTER portion of the NATR? For example, was a particular Socratic technique or developing an alternative thought helpful?

    What I found most helpful in completing the “AFTER” portion of the Negative
    Automatic Thought Record (NATR) was looking at if there was any actual evidence that supported my thought. When stuck in my head, I oftentimes think that what I am thinking does have substance and is grounded in something that is true, however when I looked back on it, I realized that there was actually no evidence that supported the thought I was having. Another Socratic technique that stuck out to me as very helpful with the NATR was thinking about what the best/worst/realistic scenario is. I think this is helpful in grounding any unrealistic thoughts that I may experience and eliminating any anxiety that may be felt. People often realize that what they thought was the “worst” case scenario is actually not even that bad to begin with. Also, thinking of the probability that a “bad” scenario will occur was helpful when reflecting on the negative automatic thought.

    3. Even though you probably already knew what core belief you were working towards, did you have any emotional or cognitive reaction afterwards? (MDD-15)

    When I was practicing the Downward-Arrow technique on myself and using the
    worksheet that goes with it, I did experience some reactions afterwards. As I was going through the technique, I had a few moments of clarity when I realized that what would be worst case scenario for me is not even that bad, and the chances of it even happening anyways are very slim. I realized (when looking at my negative automatic thought) that even if the thought was true, it is not the end of the world and there is nothing really that bad about it anyway. This brought me to realize that this core belief should not be causing as much distress to me as it currently is/was and that it may warrant modification since it is not entirely true. I think this technique is a great way to politely challenge clients towards making adaptive changes.

    4. Was there any particular question or approach that you found more helpful (or less helpful) than others?

    The question that I found most helpful in this technique was “what is so bad
    about…?” I think this allowed me to really put into perspective the thought that I was experiencing and allowed me to realize that it truly was not that bad. Thinking of the “so what?” was helpful to me as well because it, once again, is really challenging the thought and what it means, and if it should even exist or not. The question that I thought was less helpful than the others was “if what you say is true, what does that mean about you?” This is because I think this question opens clients up to really personalizing everything they are feeling and this may cause difficulties in really being able to modify existing beliefs and thoughts. I think the question should more so be aimed around the situation the thought connects to rather than the person experiencing it. This may especially be hard for clients to digest earlier on in therapy if this is their first attempt at opening up and being available to modify their automatic thoughts and core beliefs.

    5. What information or themes obtained from both techniques will be helpful in developing a new core belief? (MDD-17)

    Examining the evidence is the first technique used with Mark. I think that some
    of the more negative things that he mentioned could be helpful in developing a new core belief because he can focus, maybe, on what he could strive for as the opposite to what he was previously feeling. For example, Mark mentions that abandonment may be a theme he has felt in the past, although it is quite a strong word. I think that working through how many strong and developing relationships that Mark has currently is a great way in developing a new, positive core belief. These relationships are some evidence against his current core belief of unlikable because these are people who have recently been hanging out with him. Nothing was personalized towards Mark, and he was able to gather more information from his friends. His girlfriend, Melissa, has also been very supportive of him as well so he has a strong base of reasons why he is not unlikable. He also looks at advantages and disadvantages of his core belief. The disadvantages are important to look at when considering developing a new core belief. Mark explains that he oftentimes pulls himself away from relationships when he begins to get close to people to not cause any harm to himself, yet it detrimentally affects his relationships. He has great insight into themes that have gone into the development of his current core belief, so this should make it much easier to develop a new, more positive core belief.

    6. What could be a possible new (positive/realistic) core belief to test with the Core Belief Flowchart (Part B) and a Behavioral Experiment?

    A possible new core belief to test with the Core Belief Flowchart (Part B) and a
    Behavioral Experiment is feeling loved/liked by others. This is the exact opposite of Mark’s current core belief of unlikable, so I think it is an important one to strive for. Using the Core Belief Flowchart (Part B), Mark and the therapist would discuss what evidence there is for this new core belief (e.g., Mark has plenty of friends that he hangs out with, he is in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend) and they would also discuss the advantages to this belief (e.g., Mark would not distance himself from his friends due to negative automatic thoughts that he has to try to protect himself from getting hurt). They then would discuss automatic thoughts for different scenarios based on the new core belief of feeling loved/liked. By filling out the Behavioral Experiment Worksheet, Mark would see that he has come up with a plan to strengthen his new core belief and some specific thoughts and behaviors that are associated with it. However, it is also important to identify any potential challenges/obstacles because nothing will ever go perfectly. Mark should actually conduct the experiment, but should predict what the outcome will be before doing so. Lastly, by discussing the actual outcome of the experiment with his therapist, this can be reinforcing if it went smoothly, or could show room for improvement next time.

    7. What was your behavioral experiment? (MDD-18)

    My behavioral experiment looked at a core belief I have developed through
    working in a retail environment for many years and changing that into a new core belief where I am able to stand up for myself respectfully, when need be at work. I wanted to focus on thoughts and behaviors that surrounded the idea that I am capable and strong enough to not take more from people than I should have to, and that it is okay to ask for help in difficult situations. I think that standing up for myself at work involves bringing any issues to my managers’ attention, and I was able to do so through this experiment. I did find it important to look through any potential obstacles I may face, however they did not get in my way, luckily.

    8. In what ways was this behavioral experiment helpful in providing “evidence” for your new core belief?

    The behavioral experiment was helpful in providing some evidence for my new
    core belief because it allowed me to see that I could be successful in what I had been striving to do. Also, it allowed me to acknowledge any difficulties that may get in my way, but when they did not, it allowed for an even larger sense of accomplishment. I think this is a great way to help clients and give them that feeling of accomplishment they need to push forward with their difficulties and make adaptive life changes. By writing everything down on the worksheet, it helped me make more of a commitment to what I was doing and was a great way to track everything.

    9. What challenges did you encounter?

    One of the challenges that I encountered was something quite simple; I had a difficult time naming the core belief that I was thinking of developing. I knew what I was planning on doing and how I wanted to think/feel, however I was not exactly sure what to put on the sheet. Although trivial and silly, this may cause difficulties for clients as well because sometimes it is not exactly easy to put what you are thinking and feeling into words. Also, I had a difficult time coming up with specific thoughts and behaviors that may be directly associated with the new core belief. For some things, I realized they were adaptive and helpful as I was actually behaving in that way.


    • Robert Salvucci
      Mar 24, 2020 @ 14:11:20

      Hey Taylor!

      I resonated with the idea that we assume negative thoughts are true and are often de-motivating, it’s easy to get caught up in our train of thought without ever questioning the process. I think many of us also find that when we stop and think of what the worst-case scenario may actually be in a situation, it seems manageable. It takes us out of worrying about minor details and seeing the bigger picture of a situation being manageable.

      It was insightful to bring up how asking clients what a situation might mean about them can cause personalization and distress. I do think with core beliefs, that brief moment of personalization may be useful in targeting what links clients make between events and beliefs about themselves. I agree that Mark can likely benefit quite a bit from focusing on striving towards a goal relating to his beliefs around being likeable.

      To me it seems silly sometimes that so many of us are nervous asking for help, for myself I realized that this fear was based in a core belief that I was incompetent, and not wanting other people to see that I was incompetent by asking them “stupid” questions. Interestingly, The best wat to stay incompetent at something is to not ask any questions about it! Happy to see that you’re making progress in that domain at work


    • Mariah Fraser
      Mar 25, 2020 @ 22:39:42

      Hi, Taylor!

      I think your post was probably very relatable to a lot of people, as it certainly was for me. I have also found it challenging in the past to bring up issues to my manager, or to ask for help in difficult situations. For me, I would feel silly for asking questions, because I believed that asking for help meant that I wasn’t capable of doing it on my own. And for whatever reason, that was a sign of weakness in my mind for a long time. I liked reading your post because I felt as though a lot of what you said made sense and resonated with me.


  7. Jenna Nikolopoulos
    Mar 22, 2020 @ 21:54:24

    1. I think it definitely helped me the see how the event stimulated my negative thoughts, which then influenced how I emotionally and behaviorally responded to those thoughts. Physically being able to look at how I responded to the event allowed me to take a step back and realize how quick I am to generate negative thoughts and how quick I am able to emotionally and behaviorally react to these events. Once I was able to look at how I emotionally and behaviorally reacted with a clear mind after the event, I felt that my in the moment reactions were over-exaggerated. Overall, I believe this exercise was really helpful in seeing how certain events really impact my thinking, emotions, and, behaviors in the moment.

    In completing the after portion, I found examining the evidence to be most helpful. This is because it allowed me to objectively look at my negative automatic thought by coming up with ways that support or don’t support its validity. By coming up with evidence for both sides in relation to my negative thought an hour or two after the event had happened where I was able to clearly evaluate the situation, I was able to see how invalid my thought really was, which made me feel better about the situation in general.

    2. Even though I knew what core belief I was working towards, I still had an emotional reaction afterwards. It was kind of overwhelming to really think about it. The negative thought I started with is something that I have thought about many times before, but asking myself those questions to dig further into the negative thought really allowed me to see the connection it has to my core belief and how it emotionally impacts,

    I didn’t feel like I found any particular question that was more or less helpful. I wrote down my negative thought and then asked myself the questions in the order that they are in. I feel like going in that order was beneficial because as I moved onto the next question, I was able to explore my previous response further. I think the order they are in helped me open up more to reveal what my underlying core belief was and really challenged me to evaluate the validity of my negative thought.

    3. I think examining the evidence for both sides of the core belief was helpful to Mark because it allowed him to see that people do like him. He was able to give support for why he’s unlikeable, but then realized that some of the instances he named for that side involved the same people when identifying situations as evidence for being likable (e.g., George and Jeff). When Mark was thinking of the advantages and disadvantages to his core belief, I think he came up with helpful information. For advantages, he said how believing this would help him not get too close to people, which will help him from getting hurt by others, and how he could spend more time with people who do like him. He felt he was able to think of more disadvantages and even mentioned how not getting too close to people was also a disadvantages. I think all of this information will be helpful in developing a new core belief because Mark was able to provide information that challenges his core belief of being unlikable to show that he is liked by others. In addition, being able to recognize more disadvantages than advantages is helpful because it allows Mark to see how this core belief isn’t really helpful to him and that maybe a new more adaptive core belief would be better.

    I think a new core belief Mark could test out is “people want to spend time with me.” I think this would be helpful because Mark has said multiple times in regards to being unlikable that he thinks people don’t want to spend time with him. However, there is evidence to show that this isn’t necessarily the case. So I think this could be a positive/realistic core belief for Mark to start developing because if he can start to believe that people do generally like him as a person, I think he will also start to believe that people also want to spend time with him.

    4. My behavioral experiment consisted of trying to connect more with my friends that I don’t see as often anymore since we all went in different directions after college to stop me from isolating myself.

    Once I started graduate school, since I was more on my own and not surrounded by my friends 24/7 like in undergrad, I could see myself starting to get back into old habits that I thought I outgrew and began to feel like a version of myself that I haven’t been for a long time. This behavioral experiment was helpful in showing me that I am a likeable person and that my friends do want to spend time with me. Obviously with each of us doing different things, it’s harder for all of us to come together, but making more of an effort to connect really helped me see the evidence for my new core belief.

    The only challenge I’ve encountered is trying to find a time where me and my friend are both available to actually talk (e.g., phone call or Facetime) instead of just texting. It’s usually not as easy during the day because even though they are home because of the Corona situation they are still working. But after making a few attempts, I think we both found a time during the evening where we can take some time and just catch up with one another.


    • Tim Keir
      Mar 26, 2020 @ 22:03:57

      Hey Jenna!

      The act of exploring your own core beliefs is terribly powerful. The realization of how far the implication reaches to all aspects of your character is just plain old exhausting. I agree with you in that most of the questions to explore the core beliefs are similar enough to be interchangeable – they all ask you to dig deeper in a way.

      And I’m glad you began making time for your friends! It’s easy to fall out of the habit of socialization with those you don’t see regularly. But often all it takes is the effort to let them know you care and people tend to reciprocate. I’m happy you were able to find time to make it work.


  8. Robert Salvucci
    Mar 22, 2020 @ 22:01:59

    Automatic Thoughts

    1. Working on the Negative Automatic Thought Record really helped me see the reciprocity between the narrative going through my head and my emotional reaction. I also became more aware of how my motivational state and thoughts related to the future are filtered through my current mood. I notice for example, that when I am hungry, I tend to catastrophize more and have a lower sense of self0efficacy for future events. The same is true for when I’m tired or anxious. When I’m in these more vulnerable states, my capacity to reflect objectively and consider tasks or life in individual steps is compromised. Things seem like a much bigger, less manageable blur. This is why I’ve found CBT related journaling and mindfulness to be so effective, because it has helped me focus on what I am currently doing, break tasks down, and have a general sense that I can accomplish or cope with something when I’m not thinking of life or tasks as an overhanging, amorphous blob of stuff, and see it as a series of manageable tasks.

    2. I find a lot of benefit from generating possible alternative explanations, especially in the context of ambiguous social situations. I’ve been working on really paying attention to when I’m being motivated to behave in a certain way based on how I think other people perceive me. Something I’ve noticed as I do this more – My brain will often times perceive neutral expressions or reactions as negative, because I’m anticipating a certain level of enthusiasm or responsiveness that is unrealistic. So I would habitually feel a pang of anxiety from short responses, particularly in the context of greeting saying bye to someone, or attempting to make plans. When I find myself ruminating on these events, it is very easy to generate many, many explanations as to why someone was not overly enthusiastic in their interactions with me. This is usually effective in calming a lot of my anxiety, as it becomes obvious that my emotional reactions is stemming from an irrational and unrealistic expectation.

    Core Beliefs MDD 15

    1. The action of actually stating to myself what belief I am operating under generates a sense of emotional distance and almost a humorous response. I think what’s most powerful for me is noticing the amount of emotional and logical discrepancy between certain thought and the underlying core beliefs. It’s interesting seeing a contradiction between some of the thoughts I tell myself. There’s sometimes a sense of relief from seeing that a lot of the distress I feel really can be boiled down in a sense to a series of statements or values about myself. I noticed that I experience a degree of confusion or dissonance when my thoughts stray from a “normal” way of thinking, and as I practice them more, it becomes easier and feels more comfortable.

    2. Asking myself “what is so bad about x” is really really useful. In particular it helped me see how I tend to personalize feedback from other people, and link reactions from specific people to an archetype I associate with them “She didn’t reciprocate my advances, so women don’t find me attractive” “My boss is unhappy so I’m not a good worker” “X musician didn’t respond well to my song so the music community doesn’t like my music”. Asking this question has helped me see my tendency to depend on others for validation and interpret neutral or negative feedback as indicative of a something that is global rather than specific to that situation or person.

    Core Beliefs MDD 17

    1. Examining the evidence helps not only with modifying the core belief but also with getting into the habit of habitually thinking in a more logical and flexible manner. It allows for a cognitive framework to reference when this core belief is activated. Highlighting the negative impact of holding a core belief can really help us or a client see the flow or thoughts, emotions and behaviors that stem from this perception or assumption. Pondering what might stem from adopting a new core belief can also bring hope and perspective.

    2. Adopting a core belief around being liked, or people in general appreciating friendliness could be helpful for Mark or someone with social anxiety. For Mark, it may help him become more confident in approaching new people and more resilient when a friend needs to cancel plans. This belief could be tested with a simple experiment like “say hi to one person in the grocery store”, which can be an extremely low risk and easy habit that over time leads to a more friendly, socially confident demeanor and a sense of connection to one’s community.

    Core Beliefs MDD 18

    1. My behavioral experiment was committing to a minimum of 2 minutes a day cleaning my room, in hopes of building this into a habit rather than a spontaneous act that I engage in when things start to get really messy.

    2. By creating a habit of spending even a couple minutes a day cleaning, I’ve started to feel more organized and have an easier time focusing and collecting my thoughts in my room. It seems to also be spilling into a habit of being more diligent about organization and cleaning in general, whether I’m I my kitchen or my car. My goal is to perceive myself as a more organized person, so this min-habit provides direct evidence to support that belief and also builds a routine around practicing behaviors associated with it.

    3. Getting the two minutes in wasn’t really a problem. The biggest obstacles were not prioritizing it early in the day, and only making time for cleaning later at night when I was tired and unmotivated. This resulted in a couple days where I literally only spent the two minutes, I allocated cleaning off my desk. I moved this routine to a slot of time in the morning after I work out, and I’ve had more success with that so far. I also can have difficulty staying motivated and focused cleaning for an extended period, so I’ve been practicing both mindful cleaning and listening to music or podcasts while I clean.


    • Jenna Nikolopoulos
      Mar 23, 2020 @ 22:24:16

      Hi Bobby! I really resonated with what you said about benefitting from generating possible alternative explanations in regards to ambiguous social situations. I have a tendency to overthink the things that people say to me or overthink their reactions, which leads me down a big rumination hole. However, like you said, when ruminating on these events, it makes it really easy to come up with many alternative explanations whether they be positive or negative. I find that this technique is really helpful because I can compare all of my alternative explanations to one another and objectively see that some of my explanations are unrealistic and are worst case scenarios that more often than not are not likely, which helps to calm me down.


  9. Ashley Foster
    Mar 23, 2020 @ 11:33:57

    Automatic Thoughts
    I found that negative automatic thought record was helpful in seeing the connection of thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes. When you think about examining automatic thoughts at first glance, the task can seem daunting. I can imagine this is the same for our clients. I know for myself, breaking down these thoughts in my head (not on paper for me to see) is hard as the lines seem to blend and it is challenging to truly understand what is going on within that thought. Writing down in a concrete, sectioned off way help to not only examine the evidence but also pull out some of the irrational thinking that came along with those thoughts. For the after portion of the record, I found that using Socratic techniques such as examining the evidence, and decatastrophizing perceived negative outcomes were most helpful in “triaging” what was going on within that thought and breaking down the distress it was giving. I also think it is important to note, that this part was much harder for myself than the first part of the record.
    Core Beliefs MDD- 15: Downward- Arrow Technique

    I found that after completing the downward-arrow technique, I was a bit emotional in the sense of bringing to light certain negative core beliefs. At first glance, I needed to take a break but when I cleared my thinking, I began to see some pattern of where certain thoughts and feelings were coming from. I found that it was challenging to challenge my thinking on my own and push myself into insight even though cognitively there was some push back. I think just being fully honest with myself was the most helpful in realizing the extent of belief of core belief and utilizing techniques to modify the belief.

    Core Beliefs MDD- 17: Modifying- Evidence and Advantages/ Disadvantages

    I found that examining the evidence is helpful in the breakdown of irrational thinking of negative core beliefs that need modification. Furthermore, using examining the evidence could be utilized in helping individuals who are in denial of modifying a belief whereas examining advantage and disadvantages can be helpful for individuals dealing with ambivalence. This information is helpful in making new core beliefs that the client can hold true or even somewhat hold true already. This is where the clinician could as the client what is something your good at and build from that with evidence that can back up the truth of that belief.

    Core Beliefs MDD- 18: Modifying- Behavioral Experiment

    The behavioral experiment involved the decisions that I made leading up to the decision of putting my mom on comfort measures and the belief that my mom’s death was ultimately my own fault based on my decisions. While this experiment was hard to accomplish in truly having insight and believing the evidence of “it was not my fault”, it did help with understanding some thoughts, feelings, and behaviors I have exhibited since her death. Challenging myself to utilize coping strategies were one challenge I found as I had a hard time finding motivation to complete the strategies.


    • Madison Armstrong
      Mar 25, 2020 @ 19:33:57

      Hi Ashley,
      I like how when you were looking at the NATR, you could put yourself in a client’s shoe of how they might feel when doing negative automatic thought work. I had a similar experience and can definitely see that the emotional reactions can potentially be strong, as it is never easy to challenge yourself in a way of thinking that has become so unconscious and automatic. I also experienced resistance with doing the downward arrow technique and I imagine that some clients will feel the same. I think that the challenging aspect of the downward arrow technique is what makes it such a great technique because you feel the progress even though it is difficult.


    • Tim Keir
      Mar 26, 2020 @ 22:15:22

      Hi Ashley!

      It’s definitely tough to be honest with oneself, but I’m glad you were able to push through! I agree that writing down the thoughts makes them so much more concrete and organizable. In your head they have the annoying tendency to shift and stretch – objects in head are larger than they appear.

      Especially for intense emotional situations, it must be so hard to even explore the emotion, let alone actively apply coping strategies to it. I’m sorry that you had to go through such an experience; it seems like you are doing your best to come to terms with it. I hope this exercise was useful in helping you reach that goal.


  10. Madison Armstrong
    Mar 23, 2020 @ 12:59:45

    [Automatic Thoughts]
    Completing the NATR helped me see the relationship between my negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors and outcomes. I was able to see the way that my negative automatic thoughts are affecting me in other areas of my life that I did not recognize before this trial. I was able to notice the way that my negative automatic thought would make me feel distressed and I was able to recognize how much I truly believed this thought in the moment until I started to question it. As a result, my behaviors were unproductive, and the outcomes were not as I desired. I could begin to see how changing this thought would be beneficial and it made me more motivated to change it. Going through this process with one negative automatic thought, throughout the week I began to recognize new automatic thoughts both positive and negative.
    For me, the most helpful aspect of completing the after portion of the NATR was going through the different Socratic techniques. The most helpful for me was decatastrophizing the perceived negative outcomes and exploring other possible explanations. Decatastrophizing the perceived negative outcomes allowed me to really challenge this thought and see that the worst scenario was very unlikely and even if it did happen, the outcome would not be as terrible as I imagined. Coming up with an alternative explanation was also helpful because the explanation I had imagined was very unlikely and the alternative explanation I came up with would make more sense.
    [Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-15
    After doing the downward arrow technique on myself, it was definitely difficult without anyone challenging other negative automatic thoughts that come up when I am responding to some of the questions. When determining the meaning of the automatic thought, I noticed that I was resistant, and my negative automatic thought would appear in different language which helped me to recognize the different forms that my core belief shows through. My emotional reaction to this was that it almost felt silly to me that this is a belief that I have so strongly about myself considering most of the evidence I have analyzed previously during the NATR showed me how unlikely my belief is to be true.
    One helpful approach was considering options to modify my core belief and the different answers that come up to the questions. I was able to see the amount of distress my core belief was causing me and analyze the level of believability. It was interesting for me to see that in the moment the believability level was so strong, but when looking more into it, I was able to realize that from a different perspective it is not very valid.
    [Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-17:
    Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of his old core belief was very helpful for Mark in developing his new core belief. Mark was able to easily identify the disadvantages of his core belief and see which areas of his life the core belief is impacting. Advantages were a little bit more difficult for him, but I think it may have provided him with some insight as to why he has maintained the belief all this time. Listing the advantage that it may give him more time to hang out with other people who do like him, not only challenged his old core belief but also helped to develop the new core belief because he was able to acknowledge that some people do like him.
    A new positive and realistic core belief for mark would be that he is “generally a likable person”. This is a good way to reframe is old core belief of being unlikeable because it is realistic in assuming that not everyone is going to like him, but it also challenges his old belief by claiming that some people actually do like him. Mark has provided evidence that there are people in his life who do like him, so I think that this would be a good belief to test in the flowchart and behavior experiment.
    [Core Beliefs] – Watch MDD-18
    My behavior experiment involved me being more assertive at work and reaching out to my supervisors to advocate for myself and clients. This behavior experiment was helpful in providing evidence for my new core belief because I was able to see that the outcomee I may have expected due to my old core belief, was not as I had imagined. Doing this experiment made me feel relieved and more confident in doing this again in the future. It also helped to challenge my old core belief and show me how invalid it really is. Something that I struggled with doing this worksheet was that after I did this experiment, I stilled had negative automatic thoughts that popped into my head. I realize that this is not going to get rid of them completely, but it definitely made me more motivated to continue practicing this on my own to help strengthen this new core belief.


    • Ashley Foster
      Mar 25, 2020 @ 16:55:05

      Hey Madi!
      I can relate to the resistance doing some of these assignments. I think this is because just like our clients, we all have things we have that we don’t want to explore and that’s okay. I think this notion is important to remember when we are working with clients as they are probably having either similar or the same thoughts and feelings as they are having while doing this work. As we work with clients, it can be easy to forget how hard doing some of this work actually is. Being able to do the work now will get us more prepared to work with clients and be empathic in what are clients are going through. Great job with the post!


  11. Mariah Fraser
    Mar 23, 2020 @ 15:45:15

    Although I have been more aware of negative automatic thoughts since enrolling in this program, I was surprised to see the relationship between the event, my negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors and the outcomes. I have never recorded this process, so to see it on paper, I was able to recognize how over-exaggerated, and almost silly these thoughts were because they really didn’t have much validity and they had zero utility. Without possessing the skills to monitor, identify, and modify these negative automatic thoughts, people give into a snow-ball effect, and having a better understanding of it all, and applying it to yourself gives a level of realization I haven’t had before. I found that using supporting and contradictory evidence was helpful, and I have an easier time rationalizing my own experiences when I take different perspectives. So, approaching this automatic thought through the lens of others really helped to relieve those negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. I will also be able to look back when I have similar experiences in the future and walk myself through the process.

    I was able to have more of a cognitive realization of how this core belief influences my perception of personal events, and having recognized that a lot of my negative automatic thoughts stem from this negative core belief came as a shock. From this technique, I was able to realize that this core belief needs modification to become something more adaptive.
    Asking myself the question of if this negative automatic thought is true, what it means about myself was the the most useful because it helped me to have a better understanding of my own thoughts and beliefs.

    Mark was able to identify advantages to his core belief that he could spend more time with people who he knew liked him, which in a way almost disproves the belief to begin with. That is, if Mark believes that no one likes him, then mentioning this advantage proves that people actually do like him and that this negative core belief is somewhat invalid. Mark was also able to share disadvantages of this core belief, which would be that he is withdrawn (as discussed from previous events) and has the tendency to ruminate. Having this information will likely help Mark to move forward in creating behavioral experiments.
    The therapist and Mark were able to collaboratively generate a new core belief that was more realistic than his old core belief. Instead of thinking people don’t like him, Mark agreed that a better core belief would be that he is generally likable. This is more realistic because not everyone is going to like him — people have their differences, and that’s normal. Just as examining the evidence is important in formulating a new core belief, examining the evidence is just as important when the client and therapist are establishing goals and developing a behavioral experiment. The goals should be attainable and easily evaluated in the behavioral experiment.

    My behavioral experiment involves making use of some form of a weekly activity monitoring log. With everything that is happening with the pandemic, almost every aspect of my life had changed. Although it was not news to me that I am not the only one in this boat, it still felt like a tough pill to swallow, and required some modification. To keep myself on track, to avoid losing sight of what is important in this moment, I need something that will keep me accountable for how I spend my time. This will show that I am capable of perseverance despite the uncertainty of the world. The evidence will support the belief that I am capable because my efforts have paid off in the past, and they will continue to do so now. I’ve had to be flexible in previous experiences and this is no different. This will be an ongoing experiment until a level of normalcy is regained, but I anticipate that some days will be more challenging than others just based on the fact that self-isolation/social distancing can be fun some days, and miserable others.


    • Jenna Nikolopoulos
      Mar 23, 2020 @ 22:40:45

      Hi Mariah! I really like the idea you had for your behavioral experiment. I am totally on the same page as you about a lot of things changing now that this pandemic has gone into full effect. I, along with my sister, lived on campus and now we both had to move all of our stuff home again and had to adjust to our new living situation. Both of our parents are also working from home and trying to find space to do homework in a full house is not an easy task where there are multiple distractions. There are times where I find it really hard to concentrate or find the motivation to do my work because ever since undergrad, being home has been associated with being on a break from school. I think keeping your own version of a weekly monitoring log is a great idea to help keep you on track with everything that has been going on and it is definitely something I will think of trying to help keep me on track!


    • Taylor O'Rourke
      Mar 24, 2020 @ 12:15:23

      Hi Mariah!

      I had a very similar experience with filling out the NATR; it did seem very silly when I put everything onto paper and realized how unimportant what I was feeling actually was. I definitely realized that what I was experiencing was overexaggerated as well, so I think looking at the progression on the flowchart really helped me be able to see how I could possibly change my negative automatic thought so that next time, there would be a much different outcome.


  12. Renee Gaumond
    Mar 23, 2020 @ 16:08:08

    I did see a relationship between events, negative automatic thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and outcomes while doing the NATR. Usually the triggering event was a social interaction where I felt awkward. The events would trigger negative thoughts that lead to an emotional and behavioral response. Writing out my experiences on the NATR allowed be to see how the negative thoughts about the event created an emotional response that lead to behavior and an outcome. If I didn’t ruminate about the situation, then the outcome would have been better.
    I found that Socratic methods were helpful for my negative automatic thoughts. Exploring possible alternative explanations was the most helpful for me because I tend to personalize things and assume that people react in certain ways because of their dislike of me.
    Doing the downward-arrow technique on myself made me feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to answer if the core belief was valid. It could be due to my acceptance of it that I’m still unsure if it’s invalid or not. There’s a part of me that thinks that it’s invalid, but then a large part of me holds onto it as I try to explain to myself why it’s valid. I can’t tell if I’m being hard on myself or if the belief is realistic.
    Examining the evidence will help me with my core belief. It might help me find out if the core belief is valid or not if I examine the evidence during events that trigger it. Asking if there’s evidence to support or negate my thoughts have helped me explore if there’s truth to my core belief.
    Modifying the evidence would be effective in developing a new core belief. It could help the client to gather new information to reinforce the new core belief. The more evidence collected for the new core belief the stronger if becomes. Mark explored advantages in his core beliefs that by avoiding people, it protects him from getting hurt. Evaluating his disadvantages of his core beliefs allows him to recognize that he should develop a new one. It was easier for him to find disadvantages of his belief and he ended up believing it about 25% on his good days.
    A possible new (positive/realistic) core belief to test with the Core Belief Flowchart would be that Mark is “generally likeable”. This belief is realistic because not everyone will like Mark. It also is a good opposite to his current core belief that he is unlikeable. While finding more evidence that he is generally likeable it will provide him evidence against that he’s unlikeable. A behavioral experiment to strengthen this core belief would be to spend more time with the people that like him. This would give him more evidence to support that he’s generally likeable.
    My behavioral experiment was an attempt to modify my core belief that I’m incompetent. My new core belief is that I’m capable of doing things though I still have room to improve. The plan to strengthen the core belief is to spend more time evaluating myself when I feel like I did a good job and recognizing how I’ll do better next time if I mess up. This behavioral experiment was helpful in providing “evidence” for my new core belief by allowing me to notice when I’m doing a good job and recognizing that making mistakes is a part of the learning process. Some challenges that I found was recognizing when I did a good job. Since I tend to think I can do better or that I haven’t done enough, it’s hard to recognize when I did do a good job. Perfectionistic automatic thoughts have been something that strengthens my core belief, so attempting to fix those have been difficult.


    • Madison Armstrong
      Mar 25, 2020 @ 19:25:08

      Hi Renee,

      Thank you for sharing your experience using the NATR, downward arrow technique and behavior experiment. I had a similar experience when looking at my negative automatic thoughts and I definitely found that exploring alternative explanations was helpful for me as well. I also felt a bit uncomfortable doing the downward arrow technique and noticed some resistance as well. This helped me to find the different ways that my negative automatic thoughts come up and are shaped by my core belief.


  13. Tim Keir
    Mar 24, 2020 @ 00:02:31

    1. The NATR was really beneficial in helping me get through an interaction I found particularly irritating. I was able to isolate it when I recognized what was happening, and quickly come to realize that my response was not at all beneficial to my goal or even to my own well-being. While I did not believe the negative beliefs I had about that person after reflection, in the moment I only felt rage and spite at the person in question.
    2. The aftermath of alternative thoughts came directly from other people involved in my specific interaction, which was fantastic for helping me change my own perspective and slow down my own emotions.

    3. Even though I was exploring familiar territory, there was a wash of self-pity and sadness that accompanied the reflection into those thoughts. Such ideas, even when understood and actively combated, feel like a foundational principle such as gravity. They are taken for granted and cannot be overcome, which brings about a sense of hopelessness. Still, those feelings pass quickly.
    4. The trick for me is the exploration of what the outcome of if those automatic thoughts are true or were to occur. What is so bad about it? Well it would mean the end of the world apparently.

    5. Most core beliefs start from at least a partial foundation of benefit. That is, even negative core beliefs may have served a purpose in a specific environment or as a way to cope. To that end, the exploration of what evidence a person has towards holding that belief helps a person come to terms with the continued relevance of the thoughts. If it is still a viable concern, then that is one thing. But if the thought is no longer viable or was never viable in the first place, then exploration of the evidence should allow that point to become salient. In a similar way, exploring the advantages of a negative belief allow the client to discover what they have been getting out of maintaining it. A belief would not be perpetuated without some sort of benefit arising from it, even if it is not a benefit the person is proud of seeking. Much like Mark pushes people away to avoid being hurt, negative core beliefs often have been developed to benefit the person in some way. By knowing what goal they seek through their core belief, the client can begin to shape new beliefs while keeping these advantages in mind.
    6. To develop a new core belief around being capable of completing their workload, a person could set up a pre-planned time to attempt their work. Recording the amount of progress they make, as well as their confidence in the assignment before and after making an attempt would likely be a fantastic way of recording the person’s self-confidence changing in the moment.

    7. I filled out an advantages/disadvantages worksheet, which was enlightening. I found I had a far greater affinity for my negative beliefs than I realized, and a far greater reliance on them as an emotional shield.
    8. When you understand why the belief is being held, it doesn’t take long to pull apart how you could get the same effect with a far less self-defeating outlook. Repeating the new belief feels like rolling a weight off your shoulders. Even if it takes practice for it to stick, knowing that the way you’ve always seen things isn’t the only viable option is relieving.
    9. At the same time, coming up with new core beliefs came with a twinge of cynicism for each new thought. A tickling of “yeah right, like that’d work”. It is surprising how much resistance and affection one can drum up even for thought patterns that have caused one so much grief.


    • Taylor O'Rourke
      Mar 24, 2020 @ 12:01:57

      Hi Tim!

      I think it is really interesting how you were able to use the NATR to realize that what you were engaging in was not at all useful or adaptive for your overall well-being. I think this is a very useful tool to use with clients for this exact reason- it helps us lay everything out on paper that may have been previously difficult to just think about and reflect on. I think it is also interesting that your alternatives came directly from other people. I think feedback is always important, but especially when it is coming from our peers that we trust the most. I also agree with you that once everything is identified (i.e., our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, outcomes) it is much easier to pull everything apart and really get at the underlying negative automatic thoughts and core beliefs.


    • Ashley Foster
      Mar 25, 2020 @ 17:34:41

      Hey Tim!
      I like how your explanation of core beliefs as being purposeful even if negative. When we want to find out more about our clients and or if we want our clients to gain insight on distressing issues they may be experiencing, these negative core beliefs can be helpful it putting the puzzle together. Hopefully with that, with the tools that we are learning, we will be able to modify them and and begin the healing process for these individuals. Great job with the post!


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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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