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Effectively Treating Pathological Self-Criticism in Depressed & Dysthymic Clients
On the last track, we discussed assessing ownership of critic behaviors, the eight common reasons addicts self-criticize, and the "Negative Notecards" exercise.
On this track, we will examine three goals that depressed and dysthymic clients are trying to achieve through their pathological self-criticism. These three goals of self-critical depressed clients include: self-improvement; avoiding egotism; and reducing expectations.
3 Self-Critical Goals
Anna, age 32, regularly diets in order to avoid weight gain, often skipping meals. A few years earlier, she had been told by her mother that she had eaten too much during a Thanksgiving dinner. Anna stated, "I asked for a second helping of pie, and my mother told me that I had had enough. She said that I had already gained enough weight as it is. Whenever I think of getting another piece of pie, I always remember how fat I was during Thanksgiving, and sometimes that will stop me." Anna’s mother’s comment had so imbedded in Anna’s mind that she had internalized the belief that she is too fat.
Goal # 2. Avoiding Egotism
Jake, age 41, displayed this type of inability to distinguish between humility and self-abuse. Although he was a successful business executive with a loving, supportive wife and family, Jake constantly refused compliments and self-praise. He stated, "In my line of work, you can’t let yourself think you’re unbeatable. As soon as that happens, some young blood’s going to take you down! I never congratulate myself for anything! What have I done? Squat, really."
Technique: Making Compliments
Goal # 3. Reducing Expectations
Gina, age 35, was a journalist at a high-pressure local newspaper. Each time someone offered her a story, she would bring up her inexperience and her lack of qualifications. She stated, "I’m so afraid that if someone believes in me, I may disappoint them, and I can’t stand to disappoint anyone." I stated to Gina, "If you really wanted to be a journalist, at some point in your life you must have known the risk-taking involved. In any form of job, there is some level of responsibility."
On this track, we discussed three goals that depressed and dysthymic clients are trying to achieve through their pathological self-criticism. These three goals of self-critical depressed clients included: self-improvement; avoiding egotism; and reducing expectations.
On the next track, we will examine four different types of resistance to treatment of self-destructive criticism in depressed and dysthymic clients. These four different types of resistance to treatment include: belief in the truth of the criticisms; settling for mediocrity; morally wrong; and disbelief in efficacy.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Dickson, J. M., Moberly, N. J., & Kinderman, P. (2011). Depressed people are not less motivated by personal goals but are more pessimistic about attaining them. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 120(4), 975–980.
Joeng, J. R., & Turner, S. L. (2015). Mediators between self-criticism and depression: Fear of compassion, self-compassion, and importance to others. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(3), 453–463.
Moore, E., Holding, A. C., Moore, A., Levine, S. L., Powers, T. A., Zuroff, D. C., & Koestner, R. (2020). The role of goal-related autonomy: A self-determination theory analysis of perfectionism, poor goal progress, and depressive symptoms. Journal of Counseling Psychology. Advance online publication.
Online Continuing Education QUESTION 9
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