Monday, 09 November 2015 08:15

Healing Minds, Bodies and Spirits for Thanksgiving

Written by  Nancy Thomas, LPC
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In the field of counseling, one of the most powerful and effective forms of therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy. During this kind of therapy, the clinician helps the client examine deep rooted beliefs for validity/truth or utility/usefulness.


These beliefs may be so ingrained in identity that they are outside of conscious awareness but subconsciously contribute to everyday reactions and major life decisions. These unexamined beliefs or assumptions can trigger maladaptive emotions, physical sensations, behaviors, communications and finally, unpleasant consequences.

One important characteristic about these beliefs is that they are not the result of motivated thought. We do not try to think terrible thoughts about ourselves; the thoughts arise spontaneously, due to an activating event. Generally, these maladaptive beliefs about ourselves are adopted early in life, before developing the ability to examine these thoughts and beliefs in a mature and realistic manner.

Typically these beliefs are associated with shame. The result is that we can become very shame driven, rarely making decisions that are wise, rational, or informed and the decisions can lead to unhappy or negative emotions and consequences. This shame driven experience is a spiritual battle for our hearts, minds and spirits.
Think about it like subliminal advertising at the movie theater. The message “EAT MORE POPCORN” pops up on the screen so quickly that we are not consciously aware of it. However, we find that we think and feel we want to eat more popcorn! We did not try to think about eating more popcorn, we just did. This is a simplified version of how these underlying beliefs can determine our choices and behaviors without our conscious awareness.

There are a many forms of therapy that include examining patterns of beliefs that may be influencing us negatively. Cognitive Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and many others include exploring faulty assumptions incorporated into belief systems.

Albert Ellis developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and called it the A-B-C Theory of Emotional Disturbance. He quoted a 1st century philosopher Epictetus who said “People are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.” Obviously, Epictetus had already figured this stuff out long ago. Ellis said that the theory worked like this:


A. an Activating experience leads to
B. an eruption of irrational Beliefs (generally drawn from deep within)
C. causing upsetting emotional Consequences


All of this leads to unpleasantness and unhappiness. His remedy for this was to go back and examine the irrational beliefs by:


D. Disputing irrational beliefs (for rationality and usefulness) which leads to
E. a new Emotional consequence which generally is more rational, wise, thoughtful, logical and less painful.


Traditionally, cognitive behavioral therapy teaches us to identify these deep rooted automatic, irrational and unexamined thoughts and evaluate them for truth and usefulness. If they are not true and not useful, then more realistic and helpful thoughts and beliefs are developed. Generally, after this reflection, a positive shift in thoughts, mood, and self-esteem is experienced. Clinicians and clients also explore the behavioral outcomes of the irrational beliefs and whether they are enhancing or damaging to personal growth and development. Hopefully through this process not only new beliefs and emotions are developed but more adaptive behavior and healthier consequences.

       For people of faith, it is important to understand the wisdom and healing provided by the grace of the Holy Spirit to miraculously transform minds and spirits. Also, to examine what the Scriptures tell us about who and Whose we are. Obviously, the Bible is the best resource for this but I have found that a daily devotional that emphasizes Jesus’ healing words of grace to be most helpful. In this time of Thanksgiving, let us all be thankful for the Blessings that abound.

Consider these common human thoughts and feelings statements:


“I am unlovable.”

Or what scripture promises us in Jeremiah 31:3: I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.


“I am hopeless.”


Or conversely the scripture in Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


The result of healing of mind, body and spirit is peace as expressed in Philippians 4:7:  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Which statements do you think Jesus would like for us to have written on your heart and mind this Thanksgiving?

Last modified on Monday, 09 November 2015 11:45
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