CBT and Schema Therapy: A Tale of Two Therapies

Charles Dickens masterfully set the foundation of his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, with the quote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

While the contrast Dickens was referencing was between London and Paris (hence the novel’s name), it is an interesting notion that two competing ideas can exist simultaneously. In the novel, the reference point (London or Paris) is responsible for the distinction between “best” or “worst”. In life, and recovery, the difference between “best” and “worst” is heavily influenced by our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

We certainly have no power over French Revolution-era London or Paris, but we do have power over our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Thus, we have the power to dictate which end of the spectrum we wish live in, the best or the worst of times.

Let’s try and take this abstract phenomenon and make it real.

Say you got demoted right after your wife becomes pregnant. You had been worried about how you would have time for your newborn, so you actually perceived the demotion in a positive way. This is the “best of times”. Your thoughts of being too busy for a child led to feelings of worry which influenced the behavior of accepting the demotion.

On the flip-side, say you had been working overtime for the past 6 months while your coworker had been leaving early. You get demoted, but you heard a rumor that your coworker was offered a promotion. Due to your suspicions, you make a scene at work and you get fired. This is the “worst of times”. Your thoughts of hard-work equating to success led to feelings that you did not deserve to be demoted while someone you deemed less fit got a promotion, which influenced the behavior of acting out at work.

Schema and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Therapies like Schema or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) work on changing our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and the filter by which they are all seen. By changing one or more of these, there is a domino effect that takes place.

It is important to note that the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behavior are bidirectional, meaning that it’s not a linear process. Your behavior can influence your thoughts just as much as your thoughts can influence your feelings; it’s cyclic. Watch the video above to get more detail and explanation.

The theme of A Tale of Two Cities corresponds with the goal of therapy and addiction recovery as a whole: transformation. By utilizing therapies like CBT or Schema, we are ultimately able to change the trajectory of our life, and forge a new path of our choosing.

The worst of times was active addiction. The best of times is sobriety. Where are you in your tale?

Let Williamsville Wellness help you reach your best of times. Call us today: 804-559-9959

By: Courtney Judd