Studies show that deeply entrenched maladaptive thoughts can lead to negative emotions, such as depression or anxiety. In CBT therapy sessions, we first try to identify the unhealthy thoughts and then use logic and data to rethink those thoughts.
For example, a person may think, “I’m worthless. I can't do anything right. I’m going to get fired from my job.” Using CBT skills, a client would first identify the thought and then figure out what emotions that thought generates. In this case, the thought of losing a job may be linked with feelings of fear, despair, or powerlessness.
After identifying the associated emotions, we collect data and examine the thought. Is it valid or true? Is there evidence to support it? Is there data to support a different interpretation? For example, we ask the individual to consider “How have you performed at your job in the past?” and “What feedback have your received from your supervisor?” or "Acknowledging a few mistakes, can we also identity successes at your job."
After collecting data, we look at the probability of the client actually getting fired. The client may discover that he or she is unlikely to be fired. By using CBT skills to evaluate the situation, the individual becomes less despairing and fearful. The client also may identify actions he or she can take to feel more in control - in this example maybe improving punctuality or documenting successes.