Behavioural experiment

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When you suffer from anxiety-related problems, you often encounter negative thoughts about an event, or you have negative expectations about an event up front. To test these expectations, you can start a behavioural experiment for yourself. You will evaluate whether your expectation becomes reality. An example of such an expectation is this: “Everytime when I board the train, people look at me as if I’m weird”.

Negative scenario

First you will do research on what is the worst thing that can happen, this is called the negative scenario or even the disaster scenario. Example: “When I board the train, people look at me as if I’m weird, my face flushes red, I start breathing faster, which leads me to hyperventilate and that will result in me passing out.” The thought experiment helps you to research and evaluate this thought.

Experiment

Together with your psychologist you will think of an experiment and you are going to write this down in detail. You are writing down what you are going to do, what your negative expectation is, what your rational expectation is and arguments for both of those expectations. Next up you will test this in reality: Are your thoughts actually becoming reality?

Plan your experiment in NiceDay and fill in the following questions:

  1. Describe the experiment that you are going to perform. What are you going to do? In Which situation? How are you going to behave yourself in this situation?
  2. What is the negative expectation in this experiment? How believable is this? Write this down in percentages.
  3. Pretend that the negative expectation becomes reality, how is the experiment going to perform? What happens, how do you react, what is the outcome?
  4. What is your rational expectation of this experiment? How believable is this? Write this down in percentages.
  5. Pretend that the rational expectation becomes reality, how is the experiment going to perform? What happens, how do you react, what is the outcome?

After you have performed the experiment, you complete the planned event on the Daily planner. You answer the following questions to evaluate the experiment:

  1. How did the experiment play out? What happened, what did you do, how did it all play out?
  2. Which expectations did become reality?
  3. What is, now that the experiment is performed, the believability of your negative expectation on a scale from 0-100%?
  4. What is, now that the experiment is performed, the believability of your rational expectation on a scale from 0-100%?
  5. What did you learn from the experiment?

Source

Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2017). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.

https://pratenendoen.nl/behandeling/cognitieve-therapie/484-2/gedragsexperimenten/ 

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