The Feeling Good Therapist - Reattribution Technique

Reattribution Technique with host, Richard Lam, LMFT, featuring Chelsea Houghton, RN, MACP (In Progress)

*This Technique was developed by Dr. David Burns, American Psychiatrist and Adjunct Clinical Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

In this enlightening video, therapist Chelsea Houghton introduces the Reattribution Technique, a powerful tool created by Dr. David Burns.

The reattribution therapy is designed to address self-blame tendencies and cognitive distortions. Chelsea demonstrates the application of reattribution in a role-play scenario with a client, showcasing how it helps individuals analyze and categorize factors within and outside their control.

Through a thoughtful discussion, she guides the client to recognize the multitude of external elements contributing to a missed flight, illustrating the importance of acknowledging factors beyond personal responsibility. Chelsea's insightful exploration of the reattribution technique provides valuable skills for therapists to use in their practice and individuals to apply in their personal lives. She urges to utilize it as a self-blame coping strategy, fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities that influence our thoughts and behaviors.

Don't miss this opportunity to improve your therapeutic toolkit with host, Richard Lam, and gain valuable insights into reattribution in psychology to overcoming self-blame. Subscribe for more engaging sessions and transformative CBT techniques.


Richard: Welcome everyone to the Feeling Good Therapist, where we learn different skills and tools to help you in your own private practice or in your own personal life. And today we have Chelsea Houghton, who will be teaching us a little bit more about the reattribution technique, a really awesome technique created by Dr. David Burns. Chelsea, go for it.

Chelsea: Thanks, Richard. I'm really excited about this technique because it's a great technique to use with your clients that have self-blame tendencies or labeling tendencies or even other blame. And it's a technique that allows us to look at a negative thought geared towards one of those cognitive distortions. And it's just incredible to look at the difference in what things are under my control and what things are out of my control and puts it into perspective.

Is this something you want to try today, Richard?

Richard: Yeah, that sounds good. So tell me, what is my role in this role play?

Chelsea: So I would like you to be the client, and I will be the therapist.

Richard: Great. That sounds good. Let's do it.

Chelsea: Okay. So, Richard, it's so interesting. you missed your flight the other day and you had this thought that was, it's all my fault that I missed my flight. Is that right?

Richard: Yeah, I've been really beating myself up over it because I missed so much things because I missed that and I have to pay extra, which is ridiculous.

Chelsea: Yeah, and it sounds like there was a lot of, you know, self-blame tendencies that came, that came with those, that thought.

Richard: Yeah, I mean, I'm all to blame, at the end of the day.

Chelsea: So I would like to offer you a technique called reattribution. And basically what it does is it helps to put things into a category. So if you have a piece of paper, you're going to put it in 60, you're going to divide it in half. And one side is going to be things under my control. The other half will be things out of my control. And that's how we're going to start. So When you were missing your flight, what things were under your control?

Richard: Well, I guess kind of getting there in my Uber. I was supposed to kind of get there on time and I could have went earlier. So it's probably my fault.

Chelsea: Okay. So was there anything else that was under your control about getting to the airport?

Richard: No, it’s just kind of planning my day. I mean, on the way there I could have planned it, so that I had extra time.

Chelsea: Yeah it is hard when you feel like there's so many things you have to do before a big trip yeah is there anything else that was under your control that day or

Richard: Well that's about it.

Chelsea: Okay. I want to jump to the other category, things out of your control. You said you took an Uber there. Was the Uber late?

Richard: Oh, there was like a lot of traffic that day. I think there was an accident on the road and things were really backed up. So we were probably delayed by like half an hour to an hour.

Chelsea: Wow. That sounds like it was a really stressful situation.

Richard: Yeah, we were just kind of sitting there like, oh my God, we need to get going.

Chelsea: So, was there anything else that was out of your control that day before you got on your flight?

Richard: I think it was probably just like super unlucky day because one of the things is they kind of closed off the departure and they wanted us to enter from the arrivals and then we had to like walk all the way over there. It was like a really... difficult thing where we were like running I guess one of the things my fault is like it could run faster too.

Chelsea: Yeah, that is definitely another thought we can, you know, think about. That is something that was under your control, I guess. We can put that in that other category, running. You could have run faster.

Richard: Yeah.

Chelsea Uh, I can imagine it's pretty hard running faster when you're dragging a suitcase and carrying a backpack, so.

Richard: Yeah, I mean, it probably didn't make a difference because I was super late. I don't know how much faster I can go.

Chelsea: Yeah. So at the end of the day, you ended up missing your flight. Was there anything else that was out of your control?

Richard: There was a huge line for TSA. It was ridiculous. And I even had like the pre-check so I can get there and kind of go through the lines quickly. But there was a huge line for the pre-check too.

Chelsea: Yeah. Oh, wow. That sounds extremely stressful, Richard. And is there anything else that happened?

Richard: I don't think so. I think that's all the things that probably contribute to it.

Chelsea: Okay. Thank you for sharing all of that. So you got the Uber and then there was this traffic and a car accident ahead of you and you had to wait. And then once you got to the airport, you realized that there was, you know, even perhaps construction or something going on and they wanted you to go to the arrivals area instead of the departures area. So you had to go through all of those places to get to the airport. And then once you got into the airport, there was a huge lineup to go through security.

And I'm just wondering if you really still feel like it was completely your fault that you missed your flight.

Richard: I guess there's a lot of contributing factors when I think about it. I mean, not that I was in control of who were to get into an accident and control of whether or not they're doing like this construction work. At the end of the day, I mean, I did what I could. I did reserve time to go earlier. It's just that just kind of didn't work out in my favor in terms of all the things that just happened to me. Kind of happened along the way to get there.

Chelsea: Yeah. Well, you know, when we do this technique, we just kind of want you to realize that there's a lot of things that are out of your control. And oftentimes we take those thoughts and we blame ourselves for them, but there's so many other factors that are contributing to what's happening in our daily lives and our thoughts.

Richard: Yeah. That makes a lot of sense because there's other contributing factors that can impact how things are going, it's not totally my fault. I mean, if i planned maybe five hours in advance, but who knew, right?

Chelsea: Absolutely. Well, thank you for the role play that's the end of our role play today.

Richard: Awesome well thank you, Chelsea, for a really amazing demonstration of reattribution. And if everyone wants to learn more about Chelsea, you can find her information in the description below. If you're wanting to learn more about skills and techniques, feel free to subscribe.

And we'll see you next time. Bye everyone.

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