Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy improves coping
The basic principle of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that errors in thinking (also called irrational beliefs) cause us to develop negative emotions that disrupt our ability to maintain good mental health and achieve our goals. These thinking errors can greatly affect our behavior, too. We can make these errors in two ways.
Blaming others for creating your next attack
Blaming doctors when treatment fails
Expecting caregivers to know what we need
Knowing your triggers and setting healthy boundaries
Having realistic expectations of treatments
Allowing caregivers to express emotions
Internalizing is focusing responsibility on ourselves. This has the potential to be a good coping mechanism or create an unhealthy sense of self-blame.
Blaming self for causing attacks
Thinking one can control all trigger exposure
Blaming self when a treatment doesn’t work
Thinking one is a bad parent b/c of migraine
Acceptance that some triggers are unavoidable
Maintaining good sleep hygiene, hydration, etc.
Taking medicine as prescribed
Exercising good self-care
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy
One form of CBT is Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. This therapy is based on the idea that our automatic thoughts reveal our beliefs about events, circumstances, and people shape our emotions and behaviors. Healthy responses are a result of rational beliefs. Unhealthy responses are the result of irrational beliefs. The therapy itself involves challenging a person’s automatic thoughts by comparing them to facts about the situation in question. A thought is deemed rational or irrational based on whether or not the facts support it. Clients are encouraged to challenge their automatic thoughts and to correct irrational ones with facts to counter it.
The ABC Model
Activating event ⇒ Beliefs ⇒ Consequence
Negative Event(A) ⇒ rational belief(B) ⇒ healthy emotion/behavior(C)
Negative Event(A) ⇒ irrational belief(B) ⇒ unhealthy emotion/behavior(C)
Everyone has irrational beliefs. It’s how we respond to them that makes the difference in our ability to cope with stressful situations. Here are just a few common ones:
I should be perfect at everything.
It is a catastrophic disaster when things are not as I want them to be.
I am helpless to create my own happiness.
I need him/her.
I am powerless to change because of my past.
There has to be a way to fix this.
Think you don’t do this?
EVERYONE does. We just don’t always recognize what we are doing. Here are a few examples.
I can’t stop for a migraine. I have to work, and take care of my kids, and cook, and clean, and be a good spouse, and be there for my friends, and, and, and…
No one understands what it’s like. I’m all alone. I’m beyond help.
My husband is tired of this, my kids hate me, my friends have deserted me…you’d be depressed, too!
I am afraid my boyfriend is going to leave me because of migraine. How will I ever survive without him?
It’s always been this way, I can’t change it. Doctors will never help.
There has to be a cure for these blasted things!
I’m not pointing these things out to shame or criticize anyone. I’ve been guilty of making thinking errors just like the examples, too. I’m sharing this because there is a way to break out of these irrational thoughts. Doing so improves our ability to cope with the stressors of living with migraine.
No medicine can do what CBT can do. It is unique, offering benefits unavailable through medical treatment. Yes, Migraine is a disorder of the brain. Just because the brain isn’t working right doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There’s a great deal of empirical evidence that CBT treatment does positively alter brain function. Before and after PET and fMRI scans prove that CBT is effective at treating a wide variety of neurological conditions, including migraine.
When was your last migraine check-up?