Classic Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy models are based on the assumption that thoughts(cognitive processes) dictate feelings. Those feelings then dictate behaviors (or actions).
Person B thinks: there must be a fire, I must get out!
Person B feels: fear of being trapped in the fire, worry about how to escape
Person C thinks: I remember when my friends and I liked to pull the fire alarm.
Person C feels: understanding of kids having fun and comfortable to go back to sleep.
You CAN control you thoughts, which leads to the ability to have more positive feelings.
Christy Motta, MA summarizes a Cognitive-Behavioral approach to dealing with aggression below:
In the case of aggression, the individual must change the perceptions and beliefs that contribute to increased anger. In order to do this, the individual must: 1. Cope with arousal. The first step is to identify (observe) what is happening. The individual must become aware of when they are angry and notice the physical sensations and thoughts that accompany it.
2. Replace problem thoughts with thoughts that are helpful in dealing with PROVOCATION. “This could be rough, but I can deal with it” “easy does it” “Live and let live” “Stick to the issues. Don’t take it personally.”
3. Modify problem thoughts to those that are helpful in dealing with CONFRONTATION. “keep my cool, walk away, take a time out” “I don’t need to prove myself” “There’s no point in getting mad”
4. Change appraisals and reflections AFTER A CONFRONTATION.
a. Unresolved: “They don’t have to agree” “let it go” “don’t take it personally”
b. Resolved. Label (Describe) what happened. Praise self.
People frequently need some external limits in order to identify their aggression as a problem and begin actively working on modifying their thoughts. Probation, the risk of losing housing and the risk of losing important valued relationships are common consequences that get people thinking about their aggression.