For this assignment, you will begin to experience the power of cognitive therapy. In cognitive therapy, the therapist and client together analyze habits of language and thinking. Then together they develop a strategy to change the dysfunctional habits. Notice that this therapy does not depend on an understanding of how and/or why a symptom developed.
One of the dysfunctional habits that affect most or all individuals is negative thought. In general, the process of changing dysfunctional habits takes a minimum of three weeks before any identifiable cognitive change takes place. Therefore, we will be keeping track of our own thoughts (you don’t need to share your personal thoughts as part of the assignment, just some thoughts regarding the process itself) and answering a few questions regarding the process of cognitive change.
Each day, you are to record at least one piece of “good news” in your life. Keep recording good news every day, for the first three weeks of class, as you will need this record to respond to the learning activity assignment questions each week(see below, as well as Units Two and Three with regard to the specific questions for that week). Sometimes it is easy to think of good news, but other times it may seem difficult. Even when you are dealing with major tragedy, you will find it helpful to stop and remind yourself of good news. There are always sunsets, roses, or the sounds of children playing; these, too, are good news. So, no matter what your concerns or fears are, there is always some good news, too.
It is a good idea to record your good news at the same time of day and have a trigger to remind you to do this. For example, you might do this when you brush your teeth in the morning. Some students include their families in having each person share a piece of good news at the beginning of dinner each day.
- For part one of this assignment, write at least two full paragraphs about the process of recording good news and how that process may bring about cognitive change as it is described in the reading material. Is it hard or easy? Does it get easier over time? Do you find that engaging in this practice has effects on other aspects of your habits of thought? What effect does this practice have on your mood and your life?