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The Basics of Using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Treat Third Culture Kids




Cognitive Behavioural Therapy was developed in the early 1960’s by psychiatrist Aaron Beck as a treatment against dysfunctional thought patterns. Unlike other therapeutic practices of the time, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy focused on short-term treatment and gained acclaim for its ease of implementation and its quick results.

During Cognitive Behavioural Therapy sessions, the therapist picks up on the client’s automatic thoughts (i.e. I don’t like school) and, through the process of socratic questioning, unearths the client’s core belief (i.e. I am unlovable / unworthy of friends). Having established the client’s core belief, the therapist gives the client a task to do, to counteract the core belief (i.e. Ask someone to lunch). The task is meant to expose the client to the what they fear, and to encourage them to take active steps to overwrite their core belief, whilst also disassociating themselves from the outcome of the task.

A general example of an automatic thought and core belief that would come up during a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session would be as follows: A student has a hard time motivating himself to do an assignment. The automatic thought in this case might be that the student hates his course. The therapist discovers through socratic questioning that the student feels that he is not good enough and is worried about failing the course. The core belief would be one of incompetence. The therapist and the student agree that the student will ask the professor for help. When the student mentions to the therapist that he is scared that the professor will scold him for not understanding what had been said during the previous lecture, the therapist reminds the student to see the professor’s reaction as a reflection of his (the professor’s) poor attitude and not of the student’s competence. The therapist also encourages the student to praise himself afterwards for having taken the right steps in improving his academic prospects.

An example of an automatic thought and core belief that would come up during a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy session with a Third Culture Kid would be as follows: A patient has a hard time motivating herself to look for social activities. The automatic thought in this case might be that the patient is worried that people will think that she is strange. The therapist discovers through socratic questioning that the patient has a hard time relating to people. The core belief would be one of displacement and a feeling of not belonging anywhere. The therapist and the patient agree that she will ask her neighbour if she wants to have a cup of coffee sometime. The therapist reminds the patient to disassociate herself from the outcome. If the neighbour declines her invitation, she will understand that the person has probably declined for other reasons that her being strange and that the neighbour’s decision is a reflection of them and not her.

These are two simplistic examples of how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is used in treatment of Third Culture Kids and Non-Third Culture Kids. Cross Culture Therapy provides therapeutic services to Third Culture Kids and Cross Culture Kids alike in order to alleviate the stress experienced by feelings of displacement and rudderlessness. Our sessions last 50 minutes and are conducted via skype at a time of your choosing. If you wish to book a session with us, press here.

 

 

 

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