What should we do with non-adaptive thoughts and impulses? How could we motivate ourselves to change?

The technique that involves the use of “coping cards” is often practiced in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Traditional coping cards are small pieces of paper with texts that should be re-read two to three times a day. If a card is used to regulate the influence of negative thoughts on the emotional state, it should be re-read every time the situation happens and a negative thought written on the dysfunctional side of the card appears. There are three types of coping cards (based on their goals):

Coping cards are used to cope with maladaptive thoughts (negative automatic thought - adaptive answer).

Negative automatic thoughts are beyond conscious control, rapid, unexpanded and repetitive. We all have negative automatic thoughts in different situations. Unpleasant emotions, experiences and states, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, disappointment and apathy arise as a response to these thoughts.

For example, a friend didn’t show up for a meeting on time.

Here are possible negative automatic thoughts and emotions:

“Something bad happened to my friend” - fear.

“Му friend is angry with me, he’ll never speak to me again “- fear, sadness.

“He simply forgot about our meeting” - anger, resentment.

Analysis of non-adaptive automatic thoughts for authenticity and the development of an adaptive response helps to stabilize the emotional state, improves mood and makes behaviour more functional.

Link to the dysfunctional thought test method

There is an example of an alternative adaptive thought: “My friend is absent-minded and he is just late for the meeting.”

The coping card example:

Dysfunctional side

Something bad happend to my friend

Functional side

My friend just late for a meeting. This often happens to him.

Create a coping card to cope with maladaptive thoughts

Dysfunctional side

Write a typical (frequently occuring) maladaptive thought here.

Flip the card.

Functional side

Write alternative explanations for the situation here. It is also possible to place key arguments or facts in favor of this interpretation on this side. There may be several explanations, or there may be one integrating one.

Your coping card has been created. Re-read it each time you are in a situation that triggers a dysfunctional thought. This will help to establish associative connections between the trigger situation and the new functional thought quickly.

Coping cards for coping with difficult situations (coping strategies).

This type of coping cards is a set of techniques that help to cope with repetitive situations of the same nature, accompanied by difficult emotional experiences, which you would like to elaborate.

There is an example of a coping card to cope with difficult situations

Dysfunctional side

Public speaking

|Functional side

1.Deal with the worrying thoughts. Remind yourself that there is nothing dangerous about this performance. Recall past successful public speaking experiences. If something goes wrong, remind yourself that everyone may make a mistake.
2.Make a speech plan in order not to get confused and not to forget important things.
3.Draft short notes with examples for each point of the plan.| |---|
Dysfunctional side

Write a situation that usally causes unpleasant emotions and action difficulties difficulties on this side

Functional side

Write the strategies that can help you to cope with the situation on this side.

Use the card every time before the situation it mentions.

Coping cards that help to motivate (activating self-instructions)

This type of coping cards helps to inspire those who feel a lack of motivation.

We write a task that can be difficult for you to start on one side and "motivators", reflecting your goals and values on the other side.

An example of a coping card to increase motivation

Dysfunctional side

Learn English up to level C

Functional side

Learning English is necessary to enter a universyti in the UK, to read articles and watch films in English. This is important for fluent communication with English speakers while travelling. You also need good English to get a higher-paid job.

Create a coping card to increase motivation

Dysfunctional side

Write the task here that may be difficult for you to begin.

Functional side

Write the motivators here

If you have severe mental disorders, we recommend you to complete the task together with your cognitive-behavioral therapist!