Mervin Smucker (2015). Cognitive techniques for challenging trauma-related distortions

Target Belief
“The world is dangerous”

Cognitive Technique

  1. Calculating probabilities of specific events.
  2.  Listing advantages/disadvantages of current worldview.
  3. Cost–benefit analysis of specific vigilance and avoidance behaviors.
  4. Identifying reasonable precautions.

Target Belief
“Events are unpredictable and uncontrollable.”

Cognitive Technique

  1. Listing advantages/disadvantages of belief.
  2. Listing areas of life over which one has some control, and rating the degree of control for each.
  3. Doing a cost–benefit analysis of specific efforts at prediction/control.
  4. Keeping a daily log of behaviours that produce predicted outcomes.
  5. Engaging in behaviours with high probability of predictable outcome.
  6. Accepting that some events are unpredictable.

Target Belief
“I am incompetent.”   

Cognitive Technique

  1. Examining evidence for competence in daily life.
  2. Examining unreasonable expectation of competence in extreme an (unusual circumstances.
  3. Keeping a daily log of competent coping.
  4. Using graded task assignment.

Target Belief
“Other people cannot be trusted.”

Cognitive Technique

  1. Listing known persons who are trustworthy, and listing specific ways in which each can be trusted.
  2. Rating people on a continuum of trustworthiness.
  3. Examining one’s history of relationship choices and if better alternatives are available?
  4. Conducting behavioral experiments involving trusting others in small ways.
  5. Keeping a daily log of people who honour commitments.

Target Belief
“Life is meaningless.”

Cognitive Technique

  1. Listing activities that formerly were rewarding.
  2.  Scheduling pleasurable/rewarding activities.
  3. Recognizing feelings of loss as a way of confirming meaning.
  4. Examining which goals and activities are longer useful/adaptive.
  5. Working toward an acceptance of death.
  6. Finding meaning in each day.

Mervin Smucker