Our approach, called Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, is based on the fact that our emotions are affected by our thoughts and actions, and our thoughts and actions are affected by our emotions. Sometimes thoughts and actions make a bad situation worse, and sometimes they make it better.
Let’s look at a simple example. If you are giving a speech to a large audience and think to yourself, “Yikes, they’re all staring at me. They must think I’m dopey,” you will feel nervous and uncomfortable. Chances are you will speak too quickly, make poor eye contact with your audience, fiddle with stuff in your pockets, and so on. Consequently, you are likely to give a poor speech and quite possibly trigger the audience to think you are dopey. The applause will be half-hearted and you will end up feeling even worse about yourself.
On the other hand, if you think, “Wow! All those people are interested in what I have to say,” chances are you will feel relaxed and in control. You will speak clearly, make direct eye contact, and smile. You may even find yourself striding about the stage as you make your points. As a result, your speech is more likely to be smoothly delivered, and the audience will applaud whole-heartedly when you are done. You will come away from the experience feeling better about yourself.
Therapy is about identifying the unique relationships between your actions, thoughts, and feelings. Together, you and your therapist figure out which patterns cause distress, and which work well for you. You learn to modify the patterns that interfere with your enjoyment of life and enhance those that enhance your ability to live well and enjoy life.