As a therapist specializing in integrative psychotherapy, I often use a few very simple psychotherapeutic techniques that offer spectacular results in no time. A lot of people come to therapy, not because they have some serious problems to solve or because they’re going through a rough time, but to learn different ways through which they would be able to improve the quality of their lives. More precisely they want to learn how they can live a stress-free, happy, fulfilled life. That’s why I think you’ll find very useful the next simple psychotherapeutic techniques I often use with my patients.
1. Diary of Positive Events
This is, in my opinion, one of the most efficient psychotherapeutic techniques, which can be used with great results in a very large variety of affective disorders like anxiety, depression, or eating disorders... but you can also use it if you want to learn how to live a happy, fulfilled life. It consists in keeping a diary in which you are supposed to write only the good stuff (no matter how big or small those events are) that happens to you during the day. This way, you’ll see only the glass half-full, you’ll realize that your life is not as sad as you first believed it to be ,and that there are quite a lot of happy moments in your life... all things worth being grateful for.
This technique is used in cognitive psychotherapy especially with people who are suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, but it can also offer amazing results if you are just feeling restless from time to time and you just want to learn how to be more relaxed and stress-free. According to this simple technique, every time you feel a little nervous you should look around you and start describing to the last detail the objects or people around (just like you’d have to write an essay). It works every time and you’ll feel more relaxed in no time because your attention will focus on something else, rather than on your anxiety.
3. The Empty Chair
This very simple psychotherapeutic technique is often used with people who are dealing with the loss of a close person or with people who are going through a bad breakup. You are supposed to sit in front of an empty chair and imagine that in that specific chair sits the person who is no longer in your life. This way you can talk to that person and say the things you didn’t have the guts or the time to say. You will feel more relieved and at peace with yourself.
4. The Surprise
This technique is often used in couples’ therapy, especially in systemic therapy. Within one week, every partner has to do a surprise for his/her other half, but this surprise must remain a secret until the next session. Every partner will have to observe the behavior of his/her other half and they’ll have to guess what is the surprise their partner has prepared for them. This way, they will be more focused on the positive things that happen within the couple than on the negative stuff that may cause disagreements and fights.
5. Keeping Track of Your Daily Activities
This very simple and extremely efficient technique consists in asking the patient to keep track of his daily activities, to write them down in a notebook or in a diary and for each of those activities, he should give 2 grades: one grade for his perceived quality of that activity and the other grade for the pleasure that activity gave him. This technique is very useful for banishing those automatic negative thoughts like "I do nothing right." You’ll see that you actually do much more than you think and also, much better.
Another very simple psychotherapeutic technique, which is extremely useful in cognitive psychotherapy in treating panic attacks, is counting. Whenever you feel anxious, nervous or a little restless, you can try counting from 1 to 100 or backwards from 100 to 1 in another language or say only the odd numbers or even observe how many 7’s will you pass along the way. This way you will focus on your task and you won’t think about your anxiety anymore.
7. Worst, Best, Most Realistic
This is one of the most amazing and most simple of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques I often practice with clients. First, they are asked to imagine a situation that frightens them or that causes them to feel insecure or anxious and then, they’re asked to imagine what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the best that could happen and what’s the most realistic thing that could happen in that particular situation. By doing this, you’ll stop avoiding your negative thoughts and you’ll start confronting them. You’ll see in no time that they’re not so scary anymore.
I hope you’ll find very useful these techniques I talked about in this little article and that you will use them when you’ll be in need. Have you used any of these techniques? What other simple and efficient psychotherapeutic techniques do you know? Please share your knowledge with me!