Not Sure How CBT Works? Try a Life Inside a Counselor’s Thoughts

When I talk to my clients about cognitive reframing, thought stopping, mindfulness, and intentional acts of positivity, I sometimes get questions of “but how does this really work?" I love the personal touch of blogs; I am able to share my personal experiences in order to model how it really works in a way that I wouldn’t be able to in the therapy room. Let me know if any of these statements sound familiar. “How is it only Wednesday?” “Why is traffic always so bad when it rains?” “Why can’t I just get it together?” Probably, many sound familiar because “adulting” is hard.

Those examples above were actual thoughts that ran through my head today. I’ve been working 12 plus hour days the last few weeks, and I literally had no clue what day it was today. When I realized it was Wednesday, I thought “how is it only Wednesday???”

I left the office at a decent time for the first time in over a week today, only to spend over an hour on 290. My thought was “why is traffic always so bad when it rains?” I wanted to be home; I wanted to be with my family.

Then, I noticed my shirt was on inside out, after seeing the majority of my clients! I instantly thought “why can’t I just get it together???” These thoughts lead to feeling like life isn’t good enough and maybe I’m not good enough. Well, thank goodness I’m a believer in cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy believes that our thoughts influence our emotions and behaviors. I constantly repeat to myself, change your thoughts, change your world.

If you read the thoughts above, you most likely thought that today wasn’t a good day. However, you would be wrong. When I notice those negative thoughts creeping in, it’s when the real fun began. “It’s only Wednesday” really means “I love that I have 2 more full days of work, and two more days of living my work life.” You see, the work week isn’t the enemy. It is when we think that life begins at the weekend, that we start to lose 70 percent of our life. Let’s make that 70 percent count! Soak in the good times. This morning I started the day off with cuddles at 5 AM with my 2-year old daughter who couldn’t sleep (Thanks Day Light Savings Time), and ended it with a family dance party to the best 80s music around (yes, I’m that old; the 80s were the best decade). It might have been a combined 30 minutes of mindfulness (times that you purposely ground yourself in the moment), but those 30 minutes were fabulous. Learn to find those fabulous moments.

Traffic! Okay, I have relocated my practice out of the suburbs and back to my neighborhood in the Heights because of traffic. Most would think “how can she change or reframe this situation?” You might laugh, but it literally goes back to 80s music (yes, I realize you most likely have better taste in music!). When I’m stuck in a situation I cannot control, I control what I can. I can’t control when I get home, but I can control how I feel about it. I crank up some Madonna, Michael Jackson, or even go a couple decades in the future to Justin Timberlake. It is hard to be in a bad mood when great music is on. I get this isn’t everyone’s thing, but there are audiobooks and podcasts. Use your time wisely and let each moment count.   

Lastly, this is the one I personally struggle with the most- “Get your stuff together!” is something I remind myself daily. The fact is, I have it together. It is just allowing myself the grace I would grant others. Instead of focusing on what I did wrong today- hence, not dress myself correctly, I can focus on all that I am doing great in. When I use evidence based thinking, I realize that my list of “doing great” is much longer than the “needs improvement” list. Check what you focus on-positives versus negatives. When you realize that your thinking is irrational, try to use evidence based thinking. Put your thoughts on trial. When all else fails, have a freaking dance party. Enjoy life. Enjoy the moments that matter.

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting and read more about her services