This is part one of what will be an ongoing series on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I have been working with my therapist over the last seven months on the goal of getting my anxiety back under control without relying on my Ativan as a crutch. These posts will be out of order in the sense I am not writing about it as I am learning the technique.
One of the goals that I set out to achieve within the confines of my blog The Bipolar Writer is to give advice about things that have helped me along my journey. Today’s blog is about what has helped me deal with my anxiety—cognitive behavioral therapy. More specifically, I will discuss how I have used mood induction with music to better understand the thoughts that go through my head.
Cognitive behavior therapy is the practice of developing personal managing strategies that ultimately solve problems in a person’s life. The point is helping change negative thought patterns in positive ways so that the outcome is working on what is wrong. I have used CBT for anxiety, but I have known people who have used it for other mental illness issues like depression.
Mood induction has been extremely helpful for me as I work toward my goal of conquering my ongoing battle with social anxiety. Different experts go about using mood induction techniques with music in different ways (I am by no means an expert, but rather I will share what my own therapist gave me in steps.) Music has always been a great coping tool that I have used over the years so I was excited to work on this.
The first step is simple, the initial response step. First, find some music to listen to that will evoke emotion while you listen. It might be helpful to rate your mood before you listen to the song and then listen to the song. Focus on the song and what it brings out in your thoughts and emotions. Then write down the emotional responses that you first felt (like happy, sad, or frustrated.)
The second step in the mood induction process is the intensity of emotional response. This step is your determination of how strongly you felt the emotions in the first step. Using a scale of 1-10, you rate how much emotion came when listening to the chosen song.
The third step, reaction to emotional response, is perhaps the most important. This step breaks down into important steps:
- Describe your thoughts: This simple. What thoughts came through your mind while listening to the song.
- Describe sensations or feelings: Did your heart rate increase while listening to the song? Here you talk feelings and sensations.
- Describe behaviors: Did you fidget, pace, or sigh?
This step is important to process because it is here that you analyze your thoughts and behaviors which is helpful in real life. You take a moment in time, listening to a song, and you range your emotional response. From there you can focus on what these thoughts mean and the meaning behind such emotional response. In my experience, it helps to choose a song that brings out strong emotional response.
Here is what a breakdown will look like:
Song Choice: Nineteen Stars, Meg and Dia
Emotional Response: Relieved, happy, good.
Rate Response: 8
Thoughts: Meaningful reminds me of the journey that I have been on. Where I was ten years ago to now. I want to be a part of this world now. What this song meant to me in 2007.
Sensations/Feelings: Heart rate increased.
Behaviors: Fidgeting and moving my legs up and down while sitting at my computer.
The responses and emotions are different for each person and the results will of course vary. I have used this on close to fifty songs over the last couple months. I used an excel worksheet to break down each section.
One last thing on mood induction that I wanted to discuss is going back to the songs that you have already broken down. This is very interesting because it helps to see if your thoughts and emotions change when listened to the second time.
Well, that it is part one of my journey CBT and working on my social anxiety. I would like to know if this helped anyone. Give it a try, you might be surprised.
Photo Credit: Matteo Catanese