Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I am a counselor-in-training. I find myself using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in almost every session with my clients. CBT is a great theory for counseling. It has been proven to be very effective and it is straight-forward and simple enough to explain what we are doing in therapy with my clients. In fact this educational aspect is an important part of CBT.
I am also a Christian interning at a private practice site with other Christians. We integrate faith in sessions if the client is comfortable and desiring to also integrate the Christian faith in their sessions.
I have been studying how faith-based CBT is often more effective than just regular/secular CBT where faith is not involved. I have searched hard to find a handbook or manual of “how-to” do a faith-based CBT different from a regular or secular CBT. I have not found an actual workbook or guidebook with examples and interventions for a Christian or Bible based CBT.
I have some ideas of my own and I will share those but I am very curious to know if such a resource exists. In my mind there has to be. There continues to be a steady flow of research comparing faith-based CBT with non-faith based CBT, so I imagine that the researchers put together a manual or book of interventions based on each group they were studying.
While these researchers may not have been able to sale those plans and books for ethical reasons, I would think that someone else would have thought about making money by creating a “Christian Cognitive Behavioral Manual” by now. Since I am not finding this resource, I am contemplating making my own!
So the point of today’s post is to help me think through what some of the keys to such a resource would be:
-use of Scripture to dispute irrational thoughts
– use of Scripture to replace irrational thoughts with Biblical insight
-use of prayer through-out the process, in-session and out of session as homework
-the advantage of positive, healthy Christian fellowship to help against depression
– the insight of Scripture on topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, emotions, behaviors, and the list goes on
-the advantage of having Biblical morals to stand on
-the opportunity for Christian accountability between partners, friends and/or pastors

Let me know if I am on the right track and if you have some more ideas. Thanks.

What I learned selling books door to door

Alright, so during the summer of 2006 I sold books door-to-door in Columbia, Missouri in an attempt to pay for college tuition and rent. As it turns out, I was not much of a salesman. That summer was one of the most challenging summers of my life. I learned a lot about myself, how to sell and ho to work hard no matter what.

While I did not walk away from the experience as a rich man, as others actually did, I did grow as a person in four major areas: time management, positive self talk, self-care and a having a business mentality or mindset.

Let me explain: In time management, I learned to break days into manageable sections. Selling books door-to-door, my team woke up everyday at 5AM. We showered, ate breakfast and drove to our locations. We had to knock on our first door at 7AM. Then we were not allowed to come back home until 10AM where we ate diner and went to bed. This routine started over again Monday -Saturday. Sundays were hardly a day off, since we had to travel three hours to get to an all-day business meeting with other link-minded book salesman in the same larger geographical region.

The thing about time management, first was focusing in. Focus on the first 3 hours. Map out a game plan and work hard for 3 hours. Do not think about lunch or tomorrow, push hard and focus in on the next potential customer.
The second time management tip is the more obvious stuff. There is no time for emails, going to movies, museums, football games, etc….This is not tourism nor a vacation. This is earning wages and working hard.

During the week-long training in Nashville, before heading out to Columbia, we were given a lot of training on selling, thinking like a business person and  we did a lot of practice role-play to get ourselves ready for the actual summer. After the role-plays, mentors and business experts gave us a lot of tips and feedback. They taught us to think positively. They showed us how to do positive self-talk. In between doors, on our drive from home to our locations and even during potty-breaks we were suppose to sing or shout, “It’s going to be a great day!” and “I am a selling machine!” I was pretty unfamiliar with this idea of positive self-talk up until this point in my life. Especially after a complete rejection from a potential customer who is threatening to call the cops, it really is encouraging to look at the positives instead of getting our psyche thrown off by a ragging homeowner. Even if the positive self-talk was just lies, it was still encouraging.

Okay, well with self-care, I learned how to control my energy level. These were long days, even longer weeks. And as I mentioned earlier, I was not very good at selling. So often times, I came away empty handed. The first few weeks I was adjusting to the ridiculous schedule I was not able to focus in on one three hour time block at a time. I was worried about the entire day and that was draining my energy level. Once I figured out how to focus in on the three hour time block, I was able to get my mind off of the worries of the day and just focus on the next street. Each street was a treasure hunt to find a customer. My positive self-talk told me, “someone on this street was going to purchase books today!” I am blessed to have learned this crazy skill of energy preservation. I used this skill again just this past week at a youth-group lock-in. All of the teenagers were napping by 4AM, I stayed away the entire night and didn’t nap until after the lock-in was complete and I was in my bed at home. Mental self-care was all about focusing in on the successes, that was the only way to survive mentally.

Another part of self-care is that I learned that I do not want to be a salesman. I do not want to be a workaholic that does not have time for anything other than making money. I found my true self and many things that I am not passionate about during this summer. But by going through with the experience I can now relate to people who are feeling burn-out of long work days and of the burn-out of sales.

Finally the main thing I learned is about the business mindset. The company, I sold books with, who will continue to go unnamed, had excellent training materials. I still look back at the sales manual today. The training was a great experience. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for not waking up to the dreaded day of selling books in the summer heat of the Midwest.
So I am blessed to have learned a great deal from my time there that summer. Now I can put these things and other things into practice even today. I encourage others to learn also from my experience instead of through the hard way!

Mindfulness Links

There are a ton of resources out there regarding mindfulness, here are a few:

Mindfulness – What is it? Does it really work? – Lifehacker

Mindfulness Helps Undergraduates Stay On Track – Science Daily

Mindfulness Stops Negativity From Sticking To You Like Glue – Huffington Post

Mindfulness: 6 Steps to Better Memory, Verbal Reasoning and Improved Concentration – PsyBlog
Mindfulness:living in the moment– Visual.ly

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder: a feasibility trial  – PsyDir





Letting go of what you can’t control

Last week, I looked at the Serenity prayer and focused with an example on some things we can control when stressors come. Today, I want to help by giving tips for the flipside, what about the things we cannot control?

Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

In this prayer, there is an element of faith, of a God . There is an element of change and an element of acceptance. Some things we cannot change, while other things we can. So regarding the things that we cannot change, what are we left to do?

Being able to accept things that we cannot change does involve faith. In faith circles, the term is to “let go” of things, of stress and worry for example. But this idea of “letting go” is a difficult thing to define. Especially for people who do not believe in God, letting go is still not an easy task. The definition means to “giving permission or opportunity.” In the sense of how it is used to “let go” of worry, is really like “letting go” if a girlfriend after a break-up. It is giving permission to be free. So when we talk about accepting things that we cannot change, we are able to let them go from our worrying minds. Our minds can be free of these worries!

One last thing  that is really helpful when those fleeting thoughts do come back to us is the use of relaxation techniques. Many of my clients find this simple muscle relaxation technique to be
extremely effective, especially before going to bed:

Begin by finding a comfortable position sitting, standing, or lying down. First focus on breathing. Breathe in forcefully and deeply, and hold this breath. You should be able to count to 5 or even 6 (in your head) as the oxygen enters and and then again as it exits. Let all the air go out slowly, with
it release all the tension. You should see your chest expand and feel it collapse. After about five deep, long breathes we focus on each individual muscle groups but we want to continue this breathing pattern through-out the exercise.

Start with the muscles on your two feet. Tighten all the muscles of your feet. Count to five while holding this tension. Do a final squeeze! Then relax. Let all the tension go. Feel the muscles in your feet go limp, loose, and relaxed. Your feet are not heavy. Notice how relaxed the muscles feel now. Feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Enjoy the pleasant feeling of relaxation in your feet.

I have my clients do their feet first then move up the body, all the way to their head/face. We follow the same basic instructions just instead of “feet,” I say “legs” or “arms.” Throughout the exercise, I stop and remind the client to continue to focus again on their breathing. They need to have slow, even, regular breaths.

This is a simple trick but it really does work and focusing on breathing is scientifically proven to lower heart-rate. sometimes I add things to this technique if the client or I am feeling tired of this same technique. A simple addition is to add another relaxed meditation to it. I like to tell the
clients that they are on a cloud and explain how everything is soft, peaceful, solace and comfortable. There are many similar setting and scenarios that can enable relaxation.

If you could only ask one question

If you could only ask one question to some of the most influential leaders or your favorite leaders or authors, what would that question be? This is the inspiration and idea behind Ken Coleman’s book, One Question: Life Changing Answers From Today’s Leading Voices.  One Question, is a “best of” content from Ken’s interviews with influential leaders at Catalyst Conferences. These leaders include John Maxwell, Rick Warren, John Acuff, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, Jim Collins and so many more! Instead of merely summarizing entire interviews from these leaders, Ken, focuses in on the some of the best questions he has asked these leaders and their insight from these questions.

I interviewed Ken on the phone, he reported that his goal for this book was to encourage people to ask more questions. He wants to help his readers develop a habit of inquiry. Society today focuses on getting answers. Although, in order to solve problem and succeed in life, it is much better to know how to ask questions and solve problems from those questions. The entrepreneurial mindset is one of curiosity and one that is always learning new things.
Ken declared that One Question, could be a “manual for life coaching.” The book has three main sections: succeeding, surviving and sustaining. Each section is packed with insights from various leaders offering tips on how they dealt with initial success, how they survived failure and difficult times and how they sustained success in the long-run.

The book is a great resource for any life coach, business owner or influencer. It is a great book for anyone who also desires to be an entrepreneur, life coach, or business leader. I highly recommend getting a hold of this book and reading it. The insights alone from these world leaders is well worth the price of the book. What Ken adds about developing a habit of inquiry is also fascinating. From all of 36 leaders, who Ken  featured in this book, one big overall theme rings true, they all asked questions. Ken challenges the reader in the final chapter to never stop asking questions. You can read a lot of reviews and even hear some incredible free content in video, audio and print form on his website for the book!

Review the year with these 4 questions

I had the privilege to interview Ken Coleman author of  the book, One Question: Life Changing Answers From Today’s Leading Voices. The book is a “best of” content from Ken’s interviews with influential leaders of faith at Catalyst Conferences. These leaders include John Maxwell, Rick Warren, John Acuff, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, Jim Collins and so many more! Instead of merely summarizing entire interviews from these leaders, Ken, focuses in on the some of the best questions he has asked these leaders and their insight from these questions.
When I interviewed Ken on the phone, I asked him “What are the top questions we need to ask ourselves as we end 2013 and begin 2014?” Ken offered four insightful questions to reflect upon, two that help us review the past and two that help us look to the next year.

For all the major areas of life can to be evaluate with these questions as we review 2013:
1. “What did I do right?” It is important to focus on the positives and the blessings. Think about what are you grateful and thankful for this year. These are the ‘wins’ of 2013.
2. “What did I loose?” Failure can hurt but it also is the best way to learn. So this question is not for being hard and critical on yourself but a way to review what you learned as you move forward.
Moving forward into 2014:
3. “Where do I want to be/go?” This question helps us to realize our vision for the future. It helps us dream.
4. “What do I need to get done in 2014?” It is easy to have a lot of lessons learned and a lot of vision. These things are great, although, often time we naturally create too many goals. So this question is very clear and straight-forward, to help us create realistic goal based on strong clarity of our vision. What is the one or two really big things that need to get done?

Ken is a master of asking questions. Ken Coleman reported that the goal for writing One Question was to encourage people to ask more questions. He wants to help his readers develop a habit of inquiry. Society today focuses on getting answers. Although, in order to solve problem and succeed in life, it is much better to know how to ask questions and solve problems from those questions. The entrepreneurial mindset is one of curiosity and one that is always learning new things. The book is a great resource for any life coach, business owner or Christian leader. It is a great book for anyone who also desires to be an entrepreneur, life coach, or Christian leader. I highly recommend getting a hold of this book and reading it. The insights alone from these world leaders is well worth the price of the book. What Ken adds about developing a habit of inquiry is also fascinating. From all of 36 leaders, who Ken featured in this book, one big overall theme rings true, they all asked questions. Ken challenges the reader in the final chapter to never stop asking questions. You can read a lot of reviews and even hear some incredible free content in video, audio and print form on his website for the book!