This activity will help group members learn how to set positive, achievable goals and, immerse them in the experience of working toward them.
Schema Activation Formulation
This cognitive therapy worksheet can help clients trace the development of a particular schema and understand the subsequent reactions, sensations, and choices he or she makes.
On the left side of the worksheet is a box labeled “Event.” The clients should think hard about when they first developed a particular schema and trace it back to the event that created it. For example, if a client feels they will never be good enough, perhaps this schema came from a parent who gave no praise for a big accomplishment or told the child they didn’t do well enough.
Next, this box leads to a triangle labeled “Schema.” This is where the clients should write down the schema they hold, such as “I am not good enough.”
This schema leads to a set of four interrelated and interacting consequences of the schema: bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. The clients should fill in each box with the corresponding descriptions of how this schema makes them feel, think, and behave.
To begin, have each group member write down five phrases that put the NUTS and ANTS into words, such as “I’m not good enough,” “There’s something wrong with me,” or “I don’t deserve to be loved
Completing this worksheet in a group setting can help clients connect with each other and realize that they are not alone in their negative thoughts and beliefs. It can be far too easy to believe that we are the only ones struggling and suffering from mental health or emotional problems, but this is far from the truth.
Working in a group will help relieve clients of this false belief and encourage them to share and connect with others.
NUTS refers to Negative Unconscious Thoughts, an acronym created by Goldstein and described in his book Uncovering Happiness. He believed that identifying and bringing awareness to these thoughts was the first and most important step in ridding ourselves of our negative, unhelpful, or harmful beliefs.
ANTS refers to Automatic Negative Thoughts, an acronym coined by David Burns in his groundbreaking book Feeling Good. Burns finds that these ANTS can cause depression and anxiety and lead to low self-esteem, self-doubt, and a host of other problems.
For this activity, the therapist should lead the group through a discussion of NUTS and ANTS, terms which can be used interchangeably when talking about the self-sabotaging habits we have.
” Have group members reflect on these NUTS and ANTS, and identify any themes or patterns that connect them. Encourage members to discuss them as a group or in mini-groups.
Next, tell group members to think about how certain they are that their ANTS and NUTS are true. Have they ever challenged these thoughts? Can they find evidence for or against the ANTS and NUTS?
Considering the evidence, which possibility is more likely: that they are true, or that they are false? Help them think of more factual ways to reframe these beliefs, such as “I am not perfect, but I don’t need to be,” or “I am a good person who sometimes makes mistakes.”
Finally, help group members see how much these NUTS and ANTS infiltrate their thoughts. Give group members a few minutes to identify their NUTS and ANTS and count how many they can identify within a certain period of time. When they are done, they can share their counts and their NUTS and ANTS with the group, if they are comfortable doing so.