8 Powerful Do-it-yourself Therapy Tools
There are literally hundreds of different theories and techniques in psychology and psychotherapy. I don’t claim to know them all, but over the years I have been practising as a psychologist some have proved extremely powerful. Here are 8 of my favourites.
1. Paradoxical intention
This involves trying to do the very thing you are most worried about. Instead of lying awake thinking I must go to sleep (which increases anxiety) lie awake telling yourself you must not, under any circumstances, go to sleep. Afraid you might blush or sweat? Tell yourself to blush/ sweat as much as you can. This will short circuit anticipatory anxiety, which only worsens the problem. (Logotherapy)
2. Radical Acceptance
This is excellent if you are feeling hurt or angry. Also if you're prone to regret. It's the key to letting go. Radical acceptance requires that you totally accept how the situation is, not how you want it to be, or how you think it should be. The result? It’s just more peaceful this way. (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy).
3. The Court of Law
Many of our views about ourselves are based on circumstantial evidence - conjecture, assumption, opinion - not fact. Next time you deliver a verdict about yourself or someone else, rethink the situation dealing only in facts (what actually happened, not what you think happened). Now act as a jury member. Would you deliver a guilty or innocent verdict based of the hard facts? (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
4. The Responsibility Pie chart
Prone to thinking it’s your fault? Draw a circle. Now shade in how much of that circle represents your responsibility. Next list all of the other people/ things that had a hand in what happened. Draw a second circle. This time divide the circle giving everybody/ thing on the list some responsibility. You will likely find that you are not as responsible as you thought. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
5. Borrowing someone else’s perspective
If you are often self-critical, this is helpful. Pick someone you admire or someone who loves you. Now imagine their take on what you’re thinking. And be careful not to dismiss their voice. In the grip of self-criticism we can think our voice is the only real truth. It’s not. (Compassion Focussed Therapies)
6. Probability and possibility
People who are prone to anxiety often think that because something could happen then it will happen. Deal in probability instead. It's possible that the lift will get stuck and you will be in there for days, but the probability is very low. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
7. The Gratitude diary
At some point in every day list three things that you are grateful for. This is about moving your attention away from what is wrong in your life towards what is right. (Life Coaching)
8. Hypothesis testing
Instead of treating your thoughts and predictions as the truth, treat them as hypotheses to be tested. We often live by rules that originated from painful experiences when you were young. But are now out-dated. You can spot these rules as they go 'if x then y'...'If I show my feelings then I will be rejected'. Try showing your real feelings to someone and test out whether they reject you. You may need to do this more than once to get a true picture. (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
Like all things, these techniques involve a bit of practice. So if you have found one that you think will work for you, keep at it. They are no substitute for therapy, but perhaps next time you feel stuck, you will remember reading this and find something to move your forward.