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  1. #1

    Restructuring Negative Core Beliefs

    Restructuring Negative Core Beliefs

    by Cognitive Behavior Therapy News | Beck Institute Blog
    June 6, 2012

    In this clip from a recent 3-day workshop at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Dr. Aaron Beck discusses the nature of negative core beliefs. Dr. Beck explains that core beliefs never go away; however, they can become latent with CBT treatment, diminishing their adverse effects. Latent core beliefs can become reactivated, but can then be quieted (or deactivated) again using CBT treatment strategies. Dr. Beck provides an example of strategies therapists can use to help clients restructure their negative core beliefs:

  2. #2

    Re: Restructuring Negative Core Beliefs

    I have found Dr Aaron Beck's explanation on 'restructuring core beliefs' to be very true. There is the saying "A leopard cannot change its spots". However, the spots can diminish to a small dot, but under the right conditions, they can flare up again. It is much like riding a bicycle. A person may have stopped riding a bicycle for twenty years, then after getting back on the bike, within a short time, they are racing their friend to the end of the street.

    Every belief exists to support some invested want or need. Whenever a want/need arises (rational or not) a core belief that supports it will flare up - to give meaningfulness to the want/need. My beliefs support who I am today. It is my collection of beliefs that determine my personality. In the book Alcoholics Anonymous there is a passage, in 'The Doctor's Opinion', "...unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery" (p.xxix). The word psyche entails core beliefs (philosophy, ethics, morality, prejudice, etc). If I need to change who I am, I need to change my beliefs.

    With following the alcoholic line, suppose I want to change from being an active alcoholic to a life of sobriety. Every time I want to have a drink, my core beliefs will have a story about having a drink. To restructure the core belief, I usually question it, by asking myself: "Does this thought/belief support my alcoholism or my sobriety?" This helps me to realize the core beliefs that support my alcoholism. Then I need to come up with an alternative belief/thought that will support my sobriety. This should not be difficult to do, because we all know what the right thing to do is - regardless of how well we might have hidden it. After engaging the belief that supports sobriety, the new belief gains validity, and the old belief losses priority.

    I say priority, because we never forget our old beliefs. After all, they are part of our memory. Every time we reject an old belief they go deeper down the list of priorities that support your current self. Sometimes, when fear disguises itself as being resentful, anxious, or any other negative emotion, and I am lost with what to do about it, old beliefs jump onto the vacant spotlight of 'things to do'. I either follow the old belief and relapse, or restructure that core belief again and further strengthen my sobriety.

    If I choose to relapse, then all my old beliefs quickly become validated again to support the old self - the alcoholic. All the beliefs and behaviours become prioritized. Just like riding that bicycle again.

    Restructuring core beliefs, in CBT, are naturally not restricted to cognitive initiations. Self-sabotage loves to use behavioural surprise tactics, like unexpectedly walking into a saloon to see if a friend is there - the friend being another drink. In this example, the restructuring of the core belief that saloons are meant to be visited needs to be changed. Awareness of approaching a saloon serves as a reminder (new belief) of alternative behaviours, like never entering a saloon if it does not support sobriety.

    A short note about denial. I have heard people say that denial stands for "didn't even know I am lying". I beg to differ. You have to know what you are denying before you can deny it.



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