Barnabas Center
Barnabas Center

Taking Every Thought Captive: The Process of Recovery from Hardwired Tormenting Thoughts

Bill Immel, LCSW

We have all heard about cognitive-behavioral therapy and possibly rational-emotive behavior therapy. The basic tenets of these most evidence-based treatment modalities have to do with recognizing that the observation (what you see and/or hear) triggers a thought(s), and the thought(s) trigger feelings, then the feelings can trigger behaviors. For example you are walking in the mall and see a cute young couple at a jewelry store looking at wedding bands. One of many thoughts may be “That’s never gonna be me.” Quickly and automatically this thought triggers sad and hopeless feelings which in turn trigger you to enter Barnes & Noble to look at a magazine and have a latte and a brownie to “feel better.”

It is basically, just that simple. However, it can be a grave mistake to confuse that which is simple with that which is easy. A counselor can help you to identify the core thoughts that reoccur in your mind and contribute to you feeling depressed, discouraged, defeated and/or stressed, angry, or anxious. Journaling can be a very helpful tool in this process, where you record thoughts more in the form a critical sentence statement like in my example versus a lengthy page or two of dialogue. The advantage with this is that you can do it quickly anywhere you are on a cell phone using an app called “My secret diary with password.” This way it is just like you are sending a text, and it is password protected.

The goal is that you are able to capture the thought just as it is capturing you emotionally and therefore limits the damage. Ultimately your goal is to replace the thought with the truth that is not just 100% true, but so true that it frees you from the power of the lie you believed. There are several techniques to achieving this in counseling with a properly trained therapist. Interestingly, from a Christian counseling perspective, that Bible has always said: “we take all our thoughts captive to make them obedient to Christ.” As well as “we seek the truth and the truth will set you free.”

At the Barnabas Center, we would love to help you wherever you are in your life’s journey.