CBT Strategy: Naming the Voice

Cognitive Behavior Therapy comes with many great strategies and interventions, but at it’s core, it is simply challenging and changing unhelpful thinking patterns, which in turn influence our emotional and behavioral responses to situations. However, our thoughts can be POWERFUL and convincing, so how do we even see what thoughts to change? Let’s dive in to a strategy known as “Naming the Voice.”

The first step to changing thinking patterns is differing between helpful and unhelpful thoughts. For many people that have have negative thoughts for so long, it’s hard to recognize them because they’re so normal and because our thoughts happen quickly. Naming the voice of the thought is exactly how it sounds. We are giving a name to the voice of these unhelpful thoughts. By doing this, we externalize this voice as something separate than who we are, and make it easier to challenge the thoughts.

So when we say name the voice, it’s just that. It can be a name that’s silly in order to take more power away from the voice, or it can be the voice of the actual person that said these things to you. For example, some clients I work with have thoughts about being worthless and not good enough that have explicitity been spoken by their parents. For them, they named the voice after their parents because that’s what worked for them. For others, it’s a random name that simply serves the purpose of keeping the voice separate.

Now that we’ve named the voice, what’s next? Visualize this voice to hone the idea that this is separate from yourself and can’t have power over you! When we recognize that this voice begins talking, we can choose to respond in different ways – either believe it, challenge it, laugh at the voice, or ignore it. We can understand that this voice represents other people, not you, and therefore has no truth to what it says.

Though a simple strategy, there is power to giving a name the voice that drives negative thinking and harmful beliefs about yourself. This first step gives more awareness to how often you have these thoughts and how you can externalize it from who you are!

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