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Cognitive Coping Strategies

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Cognive Coping Strategy; Learning;

As just one of the many treatments and methods of learning to cope with a phobia cognitive learning strategies can be very useful for those suffering from a specific phobia such as a aerophobia and is a very well proven technique used by many therapists.

What Is A Cognitive Coping Strategy?
As part of cognitive therapy, these methods seek to identify ways of changing thought processes and the normal responses to these thoughts.

Normally working alongside a qualified therapist, the client and therapist try and identify the triggers for the anxiety, find the different points of thought at which anxiety is increased and together will workout ways to restructure the thoughts, readdress their order of hierarchy in the mind, encourage positive thinking, find methods of regaining control over thought responses and to lessen the importance of the phobia type in the person’s mind.

How Are The Strategies Achieved?
Working together with the therapist, the client will identify the type of phobia, recognise how thoughts and responses are linked, discover the triggers of anxiety and will then learn to set achievable goals that will lessen the severity of the phobia. The goals may be to lessen the intensity of the physical symptoms experienced, or to increase their ability to cope with everyday life stresses without blaming or falling on their phobia as an excuse.

The sufferer will learn how to identify negative thoughts and responses and will learn ways of removing them from their mind by replacing them with more positive and productive management strategies. Gradually the obstacles causing the phobia will become more easily overcome or even removed totally.

The therapist will normally set homework assignments and exercises that need to be performed which will then be discussed and evaluated at the nest session. Clients will be required to practise learned techniques at home until they become a normal response, taking place of the previous reaction experienced.

The therapist will use a combination of techniques, normally involving breathing exercises, relaxation practices, gradual exposure to the phobia causing stimuli and distraction techniques. The client will slowly learn to regain control of their responses and behaviours and will be able to learn the new ways of coping with the stimuli.

Along with these techniques, the issues of food, diet and exercise will be discussed as these can play an important role in a person’s ability to perform and succeed at the recommended methods and practices.

Appointments should take place weekly and frequent evaluation of the person’s progress and therapists methodology should take place so that the client can see the improvements they are making, therefore reinforcing positive thinking.

Evaluation of the sufferer’s attitudes and beliefs should also take place at regular intervals as these will change as progression takes place.

Self-Help Techniques
Once the client and therapist are satisfied with the person’s progress, a self-help technique can be employed to enable independence. One such method is to use the STOP technique. Not only beneficial as a cognitive coping strategy for a phobia, it can be used in many circumstances in life as a way of being more in control of our thoughts. In this instance it is recommended for when irrational thoughts are beginning to arise, or when repeated images are being allowed in. The person is required to either shout, or think about shouting if more appropriate, the word STOP in a very loud and firm voice. Repetitious use of this will cause the person to stop the thought as soon as the first triggers are felt, before the full thought is played out.

Cognitive coping strategies are very useful in the treatment of phobias as they help to readdress the importance of the phobia, restructure thought and rationalise our reactions to irrational thought processes.

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