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Extra info for An introduction to cognitive behavioural interventions for mental health students

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The next step was to do the experiment and see what happens. Then she would bring the results to therapy, discuss them further, reflect on them and plan future experiments. 34 Chapter 4 Helping anxious people ways of testing them out. Then we conduct the experiment, observe the outcome and draw our conclusions as well as suggestions for the future (what we learned from our experiment). A well-designed behavioural experiment can always teach us regardless of negative or positive results. An ‘unsuccessful’ experiment (one where things went wrong) can be very distressing and discouraging for the service user.

In order to challenge a fear, we can collect the evidence that supports and the evidence that does not support the relevant anxious ‘hot-thoughts’ (Greenberger and Padesky, 1995) or anxious predictions (Fennell, 1999). Ratings, in the form of a 0–100 percentage or a 0–10 scale rating, can also be used in order to clarify the intensity of the feelings occurring in different situations, the level of belief in a thought or assumption, and the level of belief in alternative assumptions. Nevertheless, thought records and diaries can be very challenging.

The more we expose ourselves to the feared situations, the less we are afraid of them. Our bodies respond to a threatening situation with anxiety. g. ) are regulated by our sympathetic system. This system increases the levels of adrenaline and cortisone in our bodies. It does that to help us be alert and vigilant, and therefore capable of a fast response to the threat (flight, fight, or freeze). The sympathetic system is doing this to ensure our survival and therefore its reaction is immediate.

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