Once appraisals of triggers have been identified, it can be beneficial for both counsellor and client to consider the appraisal and evaluate its validity. This can be achieved through a number of questioning techniques (as outlined below).

Examining the evidence

  1. What is the evidence to suggest that the appraisal is accurate?
  2. What is the evidence that supports the appraisal?
  3. What is the evidence against the appraisal?

Looking for alternatives

  1. Is there an alternative explanation?

Questioning the effect

  1. What is the effect of my believing this appraisal?
  2. What could be the effect of changing my thinking?

Action planning

  1. What should I do about it?

Double standards

  1. What would I tell________(a friend)? if he or she were in the same situation?

(Source —? Adapted from Beck, J. (1993). Cognitive therapy: Basics and beyond.? New York: Guilford Press.)

Example Transcript

Rachel (client): At work the other day I got so mad at Don. He kept interrupting me. It was infuriating!

Counsellor: Yes?

Rachel: It’s because he doesn’t respect what I have to say. He thinks I’m stupid.

In the above transcript, the client has identified both a trigger and an appraisal of her anger. The trigger is Don’s interrupting behaviour which the client has appraised as an indicator that he thinks she is stupid.

As conversation continues, the counsellor decides to challenge the client’s appraisal.

Counsellor: Tell me, Rachel, if Don interrupted Gail [Rachel’s respected manager], what reason would you give me for why that occurred?

Rachel: Gee, if Don interrupted Gail I would say that he was trying to impress her by dominating the meeting and appearing to be full of ideas.

Counsellor: Right?

The counsellor has used the double standards technique in this example.