For many of the clients that I provide provide counselling to for depression, I recommend the book, “The Feeling Good Handbook: Using the New Mood Therapy in Everyday Life,” written by David D. Burns.
David Burns is a psychiatrist and professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and is credited with popularizing cognitive behavioural therapy after his first book, “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy”, became a best seller in the 1980s.
The book illustrates the important relationship between our thoughts and emotions and encourages people to learn to change the way they think, feel and behave in order to change their lives. One catch-phrase from the book is, “change the way you feel by changing the way you think.”
The book also discusses various “cognitive distortions,” or “irrational styles of thinking,” that can impact our moods. Some examples of distorted thinking include:
- Fortune telling – Jumping to conclusions that are usually negative, and creating expectations of how something will turn out before it happens. For example, my boss scheduled a meeting with me because he plans to fire me.
- All or nothing thinking – Thinking in extremes, using words such as “always,” “every,” and “never.” For example, she is always late, and never respects my time.
- Disqualifying the positive – Discounting positive experiences for unsubstantiated reasons. For example, my husband told me that he loves my new dress but that he liked my previous hair cut better than my current style, so that means he doesn’t find me attractive.
Burns identifies nine cognitive distortions in “The Feeling Good Handbook,” and suggests that readers can learn to modify these distortions once they are aware of them to help improve mood and combat depression.
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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