Copyright © Tim Smyth, PsyD, MFT. All rights reserved.
All of us employ habits of thought or ideas which can be flawed, illogical, or distorted. These ideas can form the basis of assumptions and entire belief systems. They also tend to create or contribute to conflicts, maladaptive behaviors, or outright disasters. I can help you "take your ideas to court" and begin to evaluate your assumptions as if they were being presented as evidence. In short, Socratic Reasoning can be a method for challenging ideas and testing their reality against other ideas or facts.
In the course of my training and experience with substance abuse and trauma I have learned a number of helpful techniques which can help one stop the replaying of bad memories or the compulsion to construct fearsome predictions of the future. Grounding techniques help you to live in the present and detach from the distressing past or future. This helps in the process of problem solving and in learning to make the best of the moment.
I have learned that mindfulness can be crucial to taking control of automatic ideas and feelings which can result in distressed moods and troubling behaviors. In the course of everyday living people can begin to run on "autopilot" and spend little time or effort at checking in on their own internal dialogue or how they label and arrange their perceptions. A smart car owner learns how to "look under the hood" if only to listen for unusual sounds or other signs of trouble. So, as one develops improved mindfulness, he/she learns how to run reality checks on their processes. For example, one client has learned that he tends to use "automatic negative self-talk" in ways which harm his self-esteem and prevent him from achieving success or even perceiving success when it occurs. After being taught in mindfulness, this client developed a resolution to question those negative thoughts and to replace them with more realistic ones. This is where learning about cognitive distortions and Socratic Reasoning becomes important.
I employ methods of reducing and managing mood disorders and trauma symptoms that are backed by years of research. I have had much success with techniques that focus on the rational examination of ideas which fuel depression or anxiety and in mindfulness and grounding techniques to help prevent runaway feelings of tension, fear, or hopelessness.
I use biofeedback-enhanced guided imagery in the treatment of anxiety and usually get rapid and positive results.
Tim Smyth, PsyD, MFT
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