Self-Reflection and Self-Practice

Self-practice activities can enhance learning as well as your development as a CBT practitioner. Hence, we present self-reflection opportunities throughout the book. We invite you, the reader, to reflect on your own experience, to generate questions, and to experiment with new ideas and strategies, so that you may generate your own conclusions and meaning for the services you provide to your clients.

Self-reflection is a process of distancing and reflecting on your own cognitive, emotional, physiological, and behavioral experiences and patterns as a professional (Bennett-Levy, Thwaites, Haarhoff, & Perry, 2015; McGinn, 2015). Self-reflection can be informative as well as provide clarification or help you work through various areas in which you are entrenched with clients (see Beck, 2011). Indeed, self-reflection is not a new idea; actually, it has been part of CBT for some time (e.g., Haarhoff & Kazantzis, 2007). You need to understand yourself, and recognize how your thoughts and emotions are triggered in the processes of therapy. At the same time, self-reflection helps you to realize that understanding is a concept that is constantly evolving and will take a lifetime to complete. One of the great privileges of the therapist role is that we often learn through our client’s growth, and we are enriched by their self-exploration, novel perspectives, and insights.

We are all human! Most of us are prone to being excessively emotional and may even be a little irrational at times. Being human, we are sometimes frail and vulnerable. In CBT, we do not aim for our clients to be perfectly logical beings; nor should we aim to be this way ourselves as therapists. In fact, the use of instincts or emotions is not always associated with dysfunction. But extreme or dysfunctional emotionality can encourage us to engage in self-practice, self-reflection, and supervision, or even to change the way we deal with the hand that life has dealt us.

For all of these reasons, we invite you to use the first self-reflection exercise, below, to reflect on your own thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors in your professional role as a therapist as you read this book. Some of these exercises may bring to your attention things that you were not previously aware of or did not acknowledge. Rest assured that you are not alone. In our experience, we have witnessed every core belief and schema structure in our CBT supervisees, and we have observed those therapists develop remarkable resilience where at one time they were vulnerable. This process has, in turn, strengthened our work as well as in our supervisees and their belief in the effectiveness of CBT.


At this early point in the book, we invite you to consider and reflect on your own values[1] [2] with regard to being supportive in relationships.

^ What values are most prominent within the relationships in your personal life? What excites you? What makes you fearful? What do you hope for?

^ How would you like family and friends to portray you 20 years from now— what is the way you want them to describe you?

^ Take 5 minutes to consider how those values are expressed in your professional relationships with clients, colleagues, and supervisees/ trainees.

interaction with present-day research methods, but it is apparent to our clients. Our goal here is to give you the tools to define and understand the components that make up each element of the therapeutic interaction, so that you can more easily place these points in the back of your mind and attend to them when needed. Our work on the therapeutic relationship augments the key elements of CBT by enhancing the assessment and training component of its central processes.

  • [1] *We conceptualize values in this book as just another feature of an individual’s belief system thatis deeply and strongly held, as well as something that individuals rarely want to change. We also invite you to write down two helpful assumptions—one ofwhich was shared by Judith Beck in her training offered at the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and the other of which emerged as aresult of our years of providing workshops to colleagues throughout theworld: • “If I am doing something for the first time, then I really should notbe any good at it.”
  • [2] “If I am doing something, and I am confused, anxious, and/orfrustrated, then this means I have an opportunity to learn—abouttherapy, and myself.” There is something special about being an authentic and completeperson when you are professionally involved with a client. In fact, likeCarl Rogers, the structural family therapist Harry Aponte published agreat deal on the topic pertaining to the “person of the therapist,” whichwe discuss later, most extensively in Chapter 14. It might be difficult fora third-party observer to identify and quantify the completeness of this
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