'The Philosophical Methods of CBT' by Tim LeBon

This week, Tim LeBon, philosophical counsellor and one of the Stoicism Today team, maps  seven typical errors of thinking, as recognised within CBT, with possible philosophical remedies for each error. The following piece is extracted from Tim’s book, Wise Therapy (2001), and is reproduced with kind permission of the author. The extract is prefaced by a short introduction, written by Tim for this blog, about the overall aims of the book.

Tim Le Bon, Psychotherapist, Philosophical Counsellor and Author of ‘Wise Therapy’
Introduction

In Wise Therapy (Sage,  2001) I aimed to examine some of the main practical topics in philosophy and explore their implications for psychotherapy and counselling.  The philosophy of well-being, right and wrong,  reason and the emotions and the meaning of life are all surveyed, what I hope to be acceptable conclusions reached, and then, in the final chapter, a counsellor’s philosophical toolbox is created.  Alongside a focus on philosophy,  I also examine the existing philosophically-inspired techniques from a variety of approaches, including logotherapy,  philosophical counselling, existential-phenomenological counselling, Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT and REBT often quote the Stoic Epictetus’s dictum that “Men are disturbed not by things, but the views which they take of them” (Epictetus, Enchiridion, 5). They have taken this idea and turned it into a technique, variously called thought records, mood logs or cognitive restructuring. The idea is that you notice when you are feeling upset (sad, angry, anxious etc) and try to determine the judgement or thought that lies behind the emotions. I usually recommend clients to imagine themselves in a cartoon with a speech bubble coming out of their head. The trick is to imagine what thoughts or images are in the speech bubble. Once you’ve worked out which thoughts are disturbing you, the next step is to untwist your thinking by looking typical thinking errors that cause emotional problems.  After that, you can come up with alternative (“rational”) responses to help you feel less upset.

In the following extract from Wise Therapy  I first describe some of the existing thinking errors described by leading CBT therapists, and then refine these to include philosophical insights.

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New Video: Insights from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations

A 20 minute talk by Christopher Gill, professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, on the philosophical project and aims of Marcus Aurelius.

Questions covered include: what is at the core of Marcus philosophical project in writing his meditations? And how ‘Stoic’ was Marcus Aurelius? philosophical method? Includes discussion of key passages for understanding the aims of the Meditations as a whole.

 

Places to Discuss Stoicism on the Web

Here are just three great places you can discuss Stoicism on the web:

1) this active ‘Stoicism’ discussion group on Facebook which has over 340 members….

2) The Reddit discussion group on Stoicism (updates from this group are also updated automatically on our sidebar).

3) And, of course, the wonderful International Stoic Forum!

Stoics are not Unemotional!

This Perspectives piece first appeared on Donald Robertson’s blog (Copyright © Donald Robertson, 2012), and draws on his forthcoming book Teach Yourself Stoicism and the Art of Happiness (2013).

 Stoics are not Unemotional!

Cartoon © Christoph Neger, reproduced with artist’s kind permission.

The misconception that Stoics are unemotional like robots, or like the Vulcan “Mister Spock” in Star Trek, is so widespread that I’ve decided to put together some brief notes to summarise the opposing view, taken with modifications from my book Teach yourself Stoicism and the Art of Happiness (2013).

The founder of Greek Skepticism, Pyrrho of Elis, was jokingly said to be so apathetic, or indifferent to the world, that his followers had to chase around after him to prevent him walking off cliffs or into the path of speeding horse-drawn wagons.  That joke was never made about the Stoics because, by contrast, they were well-known for their active engagement in family life and politics.  Likewise, the Epicureans made the attainment of tranquillity, or the avoidance of pain, the goal of life, and saw no intrinsic value in fellowship with other human beings.  This often led them to withdraw from politics or family life, and even to live in relative seclusion.  By contrast, the Stoics, for whom tranquillity is only good when it accompanies the virtues of wisdom and justice, believed that fellowship with the rest of mankind is natural and fundamental to the goal of life, which entails “living in agreement” with reason, the Nature of the universe, and the rest of mankind.  In fact, the founding text of Stoicism, Zeno’s Republic, centred on his “dream” of an ideal Stoic society, consisting of enlightened and benevolent friends, living in harmony together, under the patronage of Eros, the god of love.

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Perspectives: 'Stoic Spiritual Exercises' by Elen Buzaré

Elen BuzarĂ©, who has studied Stoicism for almost 20 years, has written a concise manual which modernises ancient Stoic therapeutic exercises. Reproduced here, with kind permission of the author, is an extract discussing both Stoic techniques in examining thoughts, or ‘impressions’ also the idea of ‘getting your desire right’. Elen also started this French language forum for practising Stoics.

To read the fascinating extract from Elen’s book, Stoic Spiritual Exercises (© Elen BuzarĂ©, 2012) please click here. 

New Video: 'Stoicism Today: so far and in the future'

A discussion between Christopher Gill, Professor of Ancient Thought at the University of Exeter, and Patrick Ussher, PhD Student at the University of Exeter. Topics covered include: what we can learn from the last Stoic Week, what we hope to do for the next Stoic Week, and what the project should aim for long-term.

Please comment on the discussion and add your ideas for what Stoicism Today could do in the future!

On the Psyche: An International Conference to celebrate the work of Professor Christopher Gill

On the psyche: studies in literature, psychology and health is an international conference to celebrate the work of Professor Christopher Gill, from the Department of Classics and Ancient History, at the University of Exeter, and builds on his studies of the psyche and the self in the ancient world.

In three impressive volumes he has integrated literary approaches with ancient psychology and medicine, from Homer and Plato to the Stoics and Galen. He has additionally addressed the question whether some of these approaches may contribute to improving our own lives and wellbeing.

The conference presents papers on the development of the psyche from Homer to tragedy and Plato, on the underworld, on medical and philosophical debates on psychology ; on modern medical understanding of ancient wellbeing; on happiness, hope and truth, and freedom, and on Neoplatonic approaches to the self and the human relationship with the divine.

Professor Gill will be retiring at the end of 2013, but will keep very much alive his interests and work in ancient philosophy, and its implications for the modern day.

For more information, and to book, click here.