Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mood logs plus

Mood logs (Burns, Padesky)  are an extremely usefuly tool for therapist and client alike.
I do recommend you try them if you havent already.
I believe they can be tweaked to be made better.
One enhancement is to include an "existential message" and "action plan"
Emotions don't always involve distortions, and even if they do they still may have a message and require  a plan
Another is to separate out factual and evaluative rational responses.
When the rational response is about whether something is the case or not,
then treat this like a detective or scientist. Put in qualifiers like "perhaps" and "probably" or better still give a probability estimate. Make an action plan for finding out more evidence.
When the rational response is about your evaluation of it, then first
- remember that you dont know if the factual stuff is true. Remember Socrates "I know nothing". This calms down the evaluaitons
- Try a thought experiment "If this hypothesis is true", what is the wise response.
The problem is you might not really feel this to start with. Then have a dialogue between your automatic thought evaluation and your rational response evaluation.
This is rather like a dialogue between Plato's charioteer and white horse.
You might also identify core beliefs ("bottom lines") to work on further - put this in the action plan.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Describe yourself in the third person

After a twenty hour training in practical philosophy, most students are well able to apply philosophical methods to case vignettes - such as

1)My sister (who is five years older than I am) is a high-flying lawyer, and my parents want me to go to law school after I finish my law degree. But the part of the law degree I've enjoyed most is ethics. I'd like to do a post-graduate degree in philosophy instead! But my parents won't want to lend me more money, and I already feel somewhat envious of my sister's lifestyle. What should I do? (Ulya)

The trick is to then apply the same methods to their own situation.

So, first teach people the methods, then ask them the following question

"Describe your situation from a third-person standpoint, stating your dilemma as clearly as you can. Then treat it as a case vignette. What would you recommend."

Best regards
Personal Development Through Philosophy and Psychology