Exploring Feelings: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage Anxiety

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Future Horizons, 2004 - Psychology - 79 pages
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Winner of a 2008 Teachers' Choice Award! Anxiety can be debilitating for anyone, but it can be especially confusing for a child. Learning about emotions helps children recognize connections between thinking and feeling, and helps them identify the physiological effects of anxiety on the body (sweating, increased heart rate, crying, etc.). This book provides a guide for caregivers and then the workbook section allows children to identify situations that make them anxious and learn how to perceive the situation differently.

Helpful topics include:
  • Overview of the Exploring Feelings Program
  • Introduction to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Modifications to Conventional Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
  • Affective Education
  • Cognitive Restructuring
  • Comic Strip Conversations
  • The Emotional Toolbox
  • Additional Tools for the Toolbox
  • Social Stories
  • Research Evidence on the Effectiveness of Exploring Feelings

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Page 9 - ... by feeling relaxed. For example, a teenage girl with Asperger's syndrome was an avid reader of fiction, her favorite book being The Secret Garden. She kept a key in her pocket to metaphorically open the door to the secret garden, an imaginary place where she felt relaxed and happy. A few moments touching or looking at the key helped her to contemplate a scene described in the book and to relax and achieve a more positive state of mind. Adults can have a special picture in their wallet, such as...
Page 15 - A Social Story™ describes a situation, skill or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives and common responses in a specifically defined style and format.
Page 13 - Feelings includes a discussion of inappropriate tools (with the comment that one would not use a hammer to fix a computer) in order to explain how some actions, such as violence, thoughts of suicide and engaging in retaliation are not appropriate tools or emotional repair mechanisms. For example, one child known to the author would slap himself to stop negative thoughts and feelings.
Page 3 - The amygdala is known to regulate a range of emotions, including anger, fear and sadness. Thus we also have neuro-anatomical evidence that suggests there will be problems with the perception and regulation of the emotions.
Page 8 - The child is encouraged to use his or her intellectual strength to control feelings using a variety of techniques. Selftalk can be used, such as, 'I can control my feelings' or, 'I can stay calm,
Page 3 - Affective Education. The main goal is to learn why we have emotions, their use and misuse, and the identification of different levels of expression. A basic principle is to explore one emotion at a time as a theme for a project. The choice of which emotion to start with is decided by the psychologist but a useful starting point is happiness or pleasure.
Page 13 - For example, one child known to the author would slap himself to stop negative thoughts and feelings. Another tool that could become inappropriate is the retreat into a fantasy world. The use of escape into fantasy literature and games can be a typical tool for ordinary adolescents but is of concern when this becomes the dominant or exclusive coping mechanism and the border between fantasy and reality becomes unclear, leading to concern regarding the development of signs of schizophrenia.
Page 7 - The goal is to find and be with someone (or an animal or pet) who can help change the mood. The social activity will need to be enjoyable and without the stress that can sometimes be associated with social interaction, especially when interacting with more than one other person (remembering the description, 'two's company, three's a crowd1).
Page 6 - Emotional Toolbox From an early age, children will know a toolbox contains a variety of different tools to repair a machine or fix a household problem. The strategy used in Exploring Feelings is to identify different types of 'tools' to fix the problems associated with negative emotions, especially anxiety and anger.
Page 3 - CBT has been developed and refined over several decades and, using rigorous scientific evaluations, proven to be effective in changing the way a person thinks about and responds to feelings such as anxiety, sadness and anger. CBT focuses on aspects of cognitive deficiency in terms of the maturity, complexity and efficacy of thinking about emotions, and cognitive distortion in terms of dysfunctional thinking and incorrect assumptions.

About the author (2004)

A clinical psychologist from Brisbane, Australia, Dr. Tony Attwood has over thirty years of experience with individuals with autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). He has worked with several thousand individuals, from infants to octogenarians, from profoundly disabled persons to university professors. Dr. Attwood works in private practice in Brisbane, but is also adjunct professor at Griffith University, Queensland. He presents workshops and training courses for parents, professionals, and individuals with autism all over the world. In addition, he is a prolific author of scientific papers and books. His books and videos on Asperger's Syndrome and high-functioning autism are recognized as the best offerings in the field. Over 300,000 of his book Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals have been sold, and it has been translated into twenty languages.

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