Research suggests that a resilient adult usually demonstrates a more positive thinking style, and has special skills in managing the pessimistic outlook towards life. So if our thoughts are influencing our emotions and ultimately how we cope then positive thinking could be a solution. However, positive thinking can be difficult, especially when you are in the face of a crisis and it may be unrealistic. The aim is to develop a more balanced thinking style.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, or CBT, focuses on five areas:

1. The situation you are in

2. How you think (thoughts/cognitions)

3. What you do (behaviours)

4. Your bodily response

5. Your emotions/feelings

In any situation you face, you will always have thoughts about it. This makes us feel a certain way, and then it affects how we behave.

Often with feelings, especially anxiety, anger and low mood, there is also a bodily reaction. We can have thoughts about our bodily reaction and our behaviours e.g. worrying that you are going to have a panic attack, which makes you breathe faster and lose control of your breath, which makes you behave agitated and snappy.

An important factor that contributes to our resilience is how we think about a situation and then what we do in that situation. E.g. What is the worst thing that will happen if I have a panic attack? How can I control my breathing? Consequently how you then choose to behave will again impact on how you feel and think about the situation. The five areas above can be put together in a model to show how they interact together.

The 5 Area Model of CBT

How we perceive the situation or a change, what meaning we give to the event and understand our problems will affect how we cope with the problem.

Look at the 2 models below. They show how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are connected in any given situation. Using this can help us examine how these interact to affect our overall perception of an event.

CBT model example
CBT model example

It’s easy to see how in the example above may have resulted in an unhelpful behaviour like staying in and avoiding the group which supports you.

Think of a situation from your own experience. How did your were your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affected?

You can download a blank 5 Areas Model to complete with your own example.

Test yourself

Try answering the quiz questions to test your understanding of this session.