Cognitive Therapy is based on the premise that what you think determines how you feel. If you want to change how you feel, then change how you think. My introduction to Cognitive Therapy came from Dr. Burns’ first book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. It offers practical and powerful advice on treating depression without the use of drugs.
Burns’ follow-up, The Feeling Good Handbook, offers a greater emphasis on application, and covers a wider range of problems than Dr. Burns’ first book. He has expanded his treatment of such problems as perfectionism, procrastination, various anxiety disorders, and low self-esteem. There is even a chapter on how to use Cognitive Therapy to give more dynamic interviews!
But the biggest addition is the section on improving relationships through effective communication. Our thoughts can interfere with communication before we even open our mouths. When we feel good, communication tends to be easy. But what about when we are angry, or when we feel blamed or criticized? How well do we communicate then? According to Dr. Burns, “the key to intimacy, friendship, and success in business is the ability to handle conflict successfully.” He explains the characteristics of bad communication and offers several effective techniques for improving communication in conflict situations. One of my favorite chapters is “How to Deal with Difficult People.” I wish I’d learned these techniques twenty years ago!
Whether Cognitive Therapy is new to you or you’ve used it before, I recommend this book because of its emphasis on practical application. What Burns has given us with The Feeling Good Handbook is a comprehensive set of easy-to-understand exercises and tools to feel better about all areas of our lives. By emphasizing the paramount importance of using these tools, he makes it quite easy for the reader to start “feeling good.”