Does the current political climate lead you to feel stressed? angry? depressed? or hopeless? In my experience as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT) and helping clients (a) to change how they think, and (b) improving problem solving and coping skills, one of the BEST ways to cope with distress about the state of affairs is to proactively get involved. There are many ways to help.
Here are a few organizations that work to fight for the rights of our most vulnerable populations, and ways you can volunteer or donate to make sure they are able to work harder than ever.
Note: Please reply to the forum with other organizations that you recommend.
The American Civil Liberties Union works to defend individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Donate here.
The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to “stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, it fights against anti-semitism and bigotry as one of the largest civil rights organizations in the country. Find your local affiliate here and donate here.
Border Angels is an all-volunteer non-profit that advocates for immigration reform and social justice focusing on the U.S.-Mexico border. It offers educational and awareness programs and migrant outreach programs to San Diego County’s immigrant population. Donate here.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America offers enrichment programs and support for children when they’re not in school. Donate and learn about ways to volunteer here.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is the world’s foremost legal advocate for securing women’s access to quality reproductive health care. Donate here.
The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) is a national civil rights law and policy center devoted to advancing the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy, training, education, and public policy. Donate here.
EarthJustice is the largest nonprofit environmental law organization in the country, working to protect wildlife, for healthy communities, and for cleaner energy options. The organization represents its clients free of charge. Donate here, and sign up for action alerts here.
Lambda Legal is a national legal organization dedicated to fighting for the civil rights of the LGBT population and people with HIV through litigation, education, and policy work. Donate here.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) works to promote the civil rights of people of color and to eliminate race-based discrimination. Donate here, and find your local chapter for more ways to get involved here.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund fights for racial justice through litigation, advocacy and education. Donate and learn about ways to get involved here.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)advocates for victims and attempts to change policy surrounding domestic violence. Click here to donate.
The National Immigration Law Center is dedicated to fighting for the rights of low-income immigrants through litigation, policy analysis and advocacy, and various other methods. Donate or learn how you can attend a local training here.
The National Immigration Forum is another leading immigrant advocacy group that offers various programs to integrate immigrants into the workforce and obtain citizenship. Donate here.
National Organization for Women (NOW) is an activist organization, foundation and PAC that advocates for equal rights for women. Donate here, and look for volunteer programs, like clinic escorting, on your local chapter’s page.
The National Women’s Law Center has worked for over 40 years to enact policies and laws on behalf of women and families. Donate here.
The Native American Rights Fund provides legal assistance to Native American tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide who may otherwise go without adequate representation. Donate here.
The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault lists a number of ongoing volunteer opportunities in childcare, community training, rape crisis counseling, and legal advocacy here.
PEN America works to protect free and open expression in the United States and across the world through literature and writing. Donate here.
Planned Parenthood is the country’s leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider. Click here for nationwide volunteer opportunities (including as a clinic escort) and click here to donate. Local chapters also list more extensive volunteer opportunities, so take a look at your specific chapter (here’s New York’s page) for more.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, which operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE; online.rainn.org; rainn.org/es) and programs to help victims of sexual violence. Click here for information about how to volunteer for the hotline or in your community, and click hereto donate.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press offers legal resources, support and advocacy to reporters to protect the First Amendment and freedom of information rights. Donate here.
The Reproductive Health Access Project is a non-profit that trains clinicians to make quality reproductive healthcare more accessible. Click here to donate.
Running Start is another organization dedicated to educating young women and girls about the importance of politics, through the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program and various other fellowships and internships. Donate here.
The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the county, and works to protect millions of acres of wilderness and pass legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. Click here for ways to give.
The Southern Poverty Law Center fights hate groups and bigotry using education, litigation, and advocacy. Donate here.
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project provides legal services specifically to low-income people and people of color who are transgender, intersex, or gender non-conforming. Click here to donate, and click here for to volunteer.
The Union of Concerned Scientists works to create solutions to the planet’s most pressing scientific problems through research, advocacy, and policy. Donate here.
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights works to protect the best interests of children who come to the U.S. on their own. Donate here or learn about how you can volunteer as a Child Advocate in Chicago, New York, Houston, and Washington D.C. here.
Follow this link to the “About CBT” tab on our website. When you scroll to the bottom of the page you will see three new articles about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to enjoy.
- Buddhism and Cognitive Therapy
- Cognitive Therapy for Depression May Be More Effective
- Research Shows CT Superior for Social Phobia
Post on the forum with your comments and questions. What did you learn? Also, are there articles you would like to share for the NYC Cognitive Therapy library?
Constant negativity can get in the way of happiness, but with practice, you can learn to disrupt and tame negative cycles.
Step 1: Label your anxiety as a false alarm
Fear and fight-flight-freeze response are basically good. They were designed to keep you alive. We run into problems when the fight-flight-freeze response misfires. Think of it as being similar to a car alarm: you want the alarm to sound when someone tries to break into your car, but you don’t want the alarm to go off when a strong wind blows or a bird lands on the car’s roof. When your car alarm goes off too easily, it is too sensitive. Yes, it will let you know when someone is trying to steal your car, but it will also go off at the wrong times. So even though in reality there is only a strong wind, the alarm reacts as if someone is breaking into your car.
People who have excessive fears have an internal alarm system–the fight-flight-freeze response that is too sensitive. The object of your fear–whether it is flying, public speaking, dirt, the dark, or something else–is like the strong wind, and your internal alarm system reacts as if it were really threatening. When your car alarm acts this way, it needs to be fixed or recalibrate. Similarly, when your internal alarm–your fight-flight-freeze response–is overly sensitive, you have to retrain it. The first step is noticing it and labeling it as a false alarm.
Step 2: Catch your anxious thoughts
Father of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck, pointed out that people become anxious not merely because of the feared object or situation, but also because of the particular thoughts or beliefs they have about the object or situation. For example, instead of saying, “This airplane flight scares me,” it would be more accurate, according to Beck’s theory, to say, “I feel scared because I am telling myself that this airplane is going to crash.” It is my thought process, not the airplane itself that scares me.
When are beliefs are completely rational and proportional to real danger, the system works just fine. Unfortunately, the cognitive system can sometimes misfire in which case our threat-related thoughts or beliefs tell us than an object or situation is more dangerous than it actually is. When thought processes go wrong, they tend to do so in predictable ways, and fearful people make the same mental errors (which Beck termed cognitive distortions) over and over again.
Step 3: Recognize your tendency to probability overestimate a bad outcome
One common cognitive distortion is probability overestimation: believing a bad outcome or event to be more likely to occur than it actually is. For example, if you had asked me, in the middle of a turbulent flight, what the probability of a plane crashing is, I might have said that there was a 25 percent chance of a crash. Of course, now that I’m off the plane and can think about it a bit more rationally, I realize how illogical my thoughts were: if there was a 25 percent chance of a plane crashing, that would mean one out of every four planes crashes. There would be planes falling out of the sky all over the place! In reality, the odds of being in a plane crash are about 1 in 11 million. So my belief about the likelihood of a plane crash was extremely exaggerated. In fact, if my thought process had been based on actual probabilities, I should have been much more afraid of the drive to the airport than the flight, because the odds of dying in a car crash are a thousand times greater than those of dying in a plane crash. Come to think of it, because the leading causes of death (by a huge margin) are heart disease, stroke, and cancer, maybe I should be most afraid of the burger and fries I had at the airport while waiting for my plane!
Take-home message: When anxious, ask yourself (and write down):
(1) Catch it: what upsetting thought or image am I having right now?
(2) Check it using helpful questions: am I engaging in the cognitive distortion of probability overestimation? what is the evidence that I am magnifying the likelihood of a bad outcome? what good things might happen?
(3) Change your thought: Record the actual probability of your feared scenario, 0-100%? And summarize what you learned.
Trial-Based Cognitive Therapy (TBCT) is a three-level, three-phase, case formulation approach developed by Dr. Irismar Reis De Oliveira at the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil in 2011. TBCT’s foundation is in Cognitive Therapy.
Like CBT, TBCT is an active approach to treatment that helps clients to recognize situationally based thoughts and unhelpful beliefs that exacerbate emotional distress. One of the main goals of both approaches is to help clients modify the so-called core beliefs (CBs) which are those global, rigid, and over-generalized perceptions about themselves, and accepted as absolutely true to the point that they do not question them. However, TBCT has a unique approach to conceptualization and techniques that make it a distinct intervention in modifying clients’ CBs.
- One of the main techniques used in TBCT is the Trial-Based Thought Record (TBTR or Trial I), a structured strategy that is presented as an analogy with Law, in which the therapist engages the client in a simulation of the judicial process. Inspiration for this technique came from the surreal novel by Franz Kafka, The Trial; in the book, the character Joseph K., for reasons never revealed, is arrested and ultimately convicted without even knowing the crime of which he was accused. The TBCT therapist uses a creative and stimulating process to make clients aware of their core beliefs about themselves (self-accusations) and, differently from Joseph K’s process, engages them in a constructive trial to develop more positive and functional beliefs.
This is a post from 2015 on how we can be more rational in responding to our fears of terrorism.