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On the last track we discussed Changing the Lens through which your client views their world.
On this track we will talk about another cognitive approach for dysthymic clients. I call this Cognitive Behavior Therapy technique the Negative Mudslide.
The main targets of Cognitive Therapy, as you know, involve the conceptual and behavioral aspects of the disorder. The following technique may enable Waylon, a 49 year old engineer, to think more realistically. As he is able to see the future more objectively and view himself and his external environment with more of a perspective, there was a corresponding improvement in the rest of his symptomology.
Negative Mudslide Technique
The negative mudslide showed Waylon a series of events happening, from first to last. As you can see this is a similar concept to the ABC and Lens Changing interventions described on the previous two tracks.
When you think of falling down a mudslide, do you think of first losing your balance at the top of a hill because of loose ground beneath you? Because the mud on the hill is soft, it is difficult keep your balance and you will continue traveling downward. For Waylon one single thought caused him to lose his balance, so to speak. Once he began to travel down this hill, he began having numerous thoughts that caused him to panic about something else and slide further. The closer he gets to the bottom of the mudslide, the faster these thoughts come.
By looking into all of his thoughts, from beginning to end, Waylon, a client I had seen for six sessions, was better able to assess when and where his problems started. The mudslide pattern helped Waylon to go through the steps of his problems by focusing on what started the mudslide and what thoughts came from it.
mood was disturbed by underlying beliefs, assumptions, or fears. This is what
made up the soft mud. His "fall" was caused by this soft mud, not by
the thoughts or images he was most aware of.
Waylon: He'd said, "I
am back to square one. I spent all weekend lying on the couch, feeling low."
We were able to trace the beginning of his falling mood to a moment when he was
helping his wife move boxes in the loft of his house.
We continued to try and identify other such situations where Waylon's fear of the future affected him. With Waylon, it was important to fully assess the times that his underlying assumptions and fears affected his thoughts and mood before I proceeded to challenge theses assumptions and fears. His negative mudslide could be written out during or after this sort of interchange. An example of the negative mudslide, for Waylon, would be something like this...
asked Waylon to visualize the top of the hill. For Waylon, the top of his
hill was feeling tired.
Waylon understands that his beliefs, assumptions, and fears are just that, he
probably will find it difficult to move onto challenging these assumptions.
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