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The Mind Over Mood workbook by Dennis Greenberger and Christine Padensky is near and dear to my heart. When I first started reading it in February of 2004, I was immediately drawn to the first sentence of the book, “An oyster creates a pearl out of a grain of sand.” What an interesting way to start a self-help book! It goes on to say, “In response to the discomfort (of the sand), the oyster creates a smooth protective coating that encases the sand and provides relief.” How many people seek therapy looking for, desperate for, relief in their lives? I was hooked…

The opportunity to learn and grow with this book is enormous, given all the information, validation and clear CBT concepts that it presents. This prompted me to read The Clinician’s Guide to the Mind Over Mood Workbook and develop a workshop where the book is the central therapeutic tool. Combined with the power of a group setting, the book helps people learn to manage their thoughts, moods, and behaviors effectively, and to improve the overall quality of their lives. I have happily been using the book for 11 years, and want to highlight a few key components that make it so practical.

“Test the meaning and usefulness of various thoughts you have during the day.”

Evaluation of our thoughts is a key concept to CBT, and one that takes intention and practice. People can learn about common thought distortions and how they create intense moods (from anxiety to shame) and impact their beliefs about themselves, others, and the world. We can then evaluate and challenge those thoughts, learning to develop new, balanced, alternative beliefs.

”Expectations affect our behavior. We are more likely to try and do something and succeed if we believe it to be possible.”

So true! Our ideas (thoughts) direct our behaviors, so we will typically avoid something we predict will fail or be uncomfortable. Avoidance, surprisingly, actually creates more anxiety, not less. We might now avoid or not try certain things, stay clear of certain events or people, and limit our goals as a result of our expectations of discomfort and conflict. If we are able to manage expectations differently, even neutrally, then we may be more willing to try something that causes anxiety in the short run, but over time enriches and improves the quality of our lives.

”Learning to change maladaptive assumptions and core beliefs can help reduce the number of negative, distorted automatic thoughts you have throughout the day.”

Core beliefs are absolute, often unconscious, fixed beliefs we develop during childhood about ourselves, others, and the world. This chapter in the book (Chapter 9), is the impetus for change with most people. The beginning chapters in the book foster awareness and then clarity about the distorted, often negative, beliefs that are developed primarily as mechanisms to “survive” our upbringing. Until people enter therapy, many of those core beliefs are left unexamined and unknowingly reinforced in the different areas of their lives. This chapter is about developing alternative, more balanced core beliefs that can drastically improve self confidence, self esteem, and ultimately, take people from “surviving” to “thriving” in their lives!

I strongly encourage you to consider using the Mind Over Mood book as a learning tool in your CBT treatment. I very much welcome the opportunity to meet and discuss my workshop with anyone interested in using the book in a group setting.

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