Sunday, March 12, 2006

Agoraphobia Thought Stopping

For people with agoraphobia who are trying to defeat the irrational thinking that causes unneeded anxiety, one alternative to thought replacing (see earlier post) is thought stopping.

Thought stopping was one of the first types of cognitive therapy. The technique of thought stopping is just what it sounds like. Once you learn to identify your irrational thinking, you can say the word, "stop" out loud or to yourself every time you catch yourself thinking an irrational thought. You can even add a visualization like picturing a big red stop sign, a bright red traffic light, or flashing red lights at a railroad crossing right before a train comes.

Saying "stop" and visualizing something will distract you just long enough to take your focus away from the irrational thought. If you don't think this works then try it. You will be surprised at how this simple exercise can cut off irrational thinking right after it starts, and before it turns into anxiety, or full-on panic.

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