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Action Precedes Inspiration: Behavioral Activation for Anxiety, Rumination, Depression, and Everything Else

antFeelings follow behavior. Cognitive Behavior Therapy is ultimately about taking action, where it truly counts, the valued ground of your daily life. Your CBT therapist will coach you in applying gradual, steady effort to make real changes in your behavior.  The goal is to develop and nurture new behavioral routines that are as fluid and familiar as the negative routines you’ll leave behind. Behavioral activation applies to all problem areas. 

Emotionally, initiating behaviors you’ve long ago abandoned, or may have never had, will trigger uncomfortable feelings and strong urges to avoid and escape. Overcoming avoidance is a key step in recovery. Here is where your CBT skills are put into practice, to help help face emotions that arise:

  1. Practice acceptance
  2. Think in a grounded, reasonable manner
  3. Act mindfully – present-centered, non-judgmentally
  4. Practice a supportive, coaching inner voice
  5. Stay committed despite the two-steps-forward-one-step-back pace of recovery  

The ultimate goal of CBT is to develop a life worth living, worth fighting for, worth getting out of bed for. Which areas of life you choose to develop will depend on your life, your values, what you – not your friends, family, community, etc. – believe will yield the best positive emotional return on your effort. In choosing activation goals, consider these areas, the four cornerstones of a life worth living:

  • Personal Health (physical/spiritual)
  • Relationships / Social/Family
  • Career/School/Volunteer
  • Enjoyment/Fun/Personal Meaning

 

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