In this episode of The Daily Meditation Podcast, we chat with Robin Buckley CPC, Ph.D., an expert in cognitive behavioral therapy.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a psycho-social intervention that helps improve mental health by changing thoughts.
There are many different CBT exercises
Robin Buckley recommends the Joy List exercise. This is an exercise in which you list all the things in your day that made you feel joyous.
“CBT At Home” Transcript
Welcome to the Daily Meditation, your home for all things mindfulness and meditation. My name is Paul Harrison and joining me today is Robin Buckley an expert in CBT, working mostly with high achieving women and couples. Robin, welcome to the show. How’s it going?
Hi Paul, I’m doing great. I’m so glad to be here.
Well, it’s my pleasure to have you on. So, could you just give us an overview of precisely what kind of work you do?
Sure, so for the first part of my career I did traditional mental health therapy and in different types of mental health settings.
But overtime I transitioned to coaching. I’m trained as both a certified professional coach as well as having a pH. D in clinical psych.
So it lent itself very nicely to the proactive preventative model of coaching, and now my focus is on 2 populations. I work with executive women and business owners who are looking to really achieve what they want out of their professional careers.
And then I also work with high performance couples. So, these are couples who are used to having success in their professional life and they want the same type of success in their relationships.
So, the work I do is very different than couples therapy because it’s based on very much a business model and strategic goal setting for the couple.
So, what type of exercises might you do with the couples and women you work with?
Oh, certainly it depends because coaching is so individualized, it depends on their unique needs. But one of the things that I do spend a lot of time helping people with is how to break down the cognitive blocks. What are the thoughts that are creating emotions and reactions that are dysfunctional or that are hindrance to their success?
And for a lot of people, they don’t realize what their thoughts are. We feel things, and we’re told in society that emotions just happen. We’re told we can’t control them, and that’s not true. We can control our emotions and we can choose whether we want them or not.
I’m certainly not an advocate of saying you have to be happy all the time. Absolutely not, but you can decide how long you want [different ] emotions to be around.
So, one of the one of the activities that I help people do is taking the time to step back when you’re feeling something that you don’t like. When you’re having a reaction that you don’t like, try and identify the thought [that is causing your reaction]. It only takes 30 seconds, and you know for most of my clients, they’re busy and they’re always moving, and they’re always thinking, and I asked him, can you afford 30 seconds to try and figure out why a situation isn’t working? Of course, there are very few people who say they can’t, you know, afford 30 seconds to take some deep breaths.
Ideally, in a quiet place or at least without a lot of distraction, the thoughts that are creating your emotions.
[For instance], impostor syndrome comes up a lot with the individuals and the couples that I work with, but for a lot of people they don’t realize that’s what it is. [Often] what really is going on is that they are worried that they’ll look unprepared, and then they’re worried that they’ll be judged. And then they’re worried that people will see them as the impostor that they think they are in terms of themselves. So it’s walking back through to identify the thought that’s really creating that momen. And it helps a lot of the clients that I work with acknowledge that you know when once they know what the thought is, then they can move forward. Then they can use specific strategies to help with that thought.
So would you say that that’s like a CBT cognitive behavioral therapy?
It’s very much CBT. I have the joy of being able to take my education in clinical psych, in CBT specially, and be apply it to coaching in a way that gets my client sided to identify what is going on with themselves.
And then here are specific strategies that help them manage their thoughts on their own.
So, for our own listeners who perhaps have never heard of CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, could you just give like a kind of summary a basic overview of exactly what CBT is?
Sure, CBT is is very much related to the school of the Behavioral School of thought, with the idea that strict behaviorists believe that our environment makes us do the things that we do.
And CBT cognitive behavioral therapy is much more aligned with, as you can imagine, the cognitive behavioral perspective which is saying, “OK yeah, our environment influences our behaviors and our reactions, but we’re not just robots mindlessly, you know moving around in our environments and we just react to the things or we act upon the things that are in our environment. We also have thoughts and we have the ability to control our reactions, our emotions and our choices.
Cognitive behavioral therapy really spends a lot of time working out what are thoughts are and how can we control thoughts and manage thoughts effectively so that we are performing at our optimal level of functioning, so that we are tapping into more to our strengths rather than allowing challenges to get in our way. That’s what I love about cognitive behavioral processes and strategies. [CBT] Ris very empowering once someone starts to learn it and adopt it. It allows the person to be in control of how they want their life to be.
And certainly there are certain you know cases when in terms of treatment, traditional mental health, that individuals might need, you know, pharmaceutical intervention. Or, you know, there are things that need a little extra support in other areas of specialty. But learning CBT strategies, whether it’s coaching or whether it’s in therapy, it can be really effective. And it’s really fast, faster than most of the other types of therapy that are out there. Very often [my clients] will they’ve been going to therapy for 12 years and they’re just tired of coming in once a week, sitting and talking, and feeling like they’re talking to a friend. And CBT is not like that. You come in and within the first couple sessions we’re going to be diving into those thoughts, developing strategies, getting you to practice the strategies so that you don’t have to be on the couch for years.
So, what would you say are the main benefits of CBT approach?
I think CBT, because of the fast nature that it’s concrete, it’s goal oriented, much like coaching, except that with CBT, when you’re doing true CBT you’re dealing again with psychological disorders and diagnosis coaching. Of course, we don’t do that, but CBT is fast. It empowers the individual to take those strategies, be discharged from therapy and be able to help themselves. That’s the goal, to be able to take care of yourself when you notice the thoughts coming up when you notice the emotions,.
So I would say [that] CBT is fast and empowering…
So CBT is usually taught with a professional such as yourself, but are there any kind of exercises that listeners could do at home?
Yeah, absolutely… We’ll start with the easier [CBT exercise]. I call it a Joy List. This is nothing, you know, novel. People have probably heard about it, but they typically have heard about it in terms of gratitude. Gratitude lists are lovely. I’m a big proponent of how gratitude can change your life in a positive direction, but here’s the problem with gratitude lists. Most people stop doing them because they become redundant over a period of time. People are grateful. Thankfully for some of the same things in their life, so the gratitude list just gets, you know ,they say that they’re writing the same thing every night.
So, I changed the idea to a joy list. And doing a joy list once a day, typically at the end of the day to reflect on all the small joys during the day. Now, people will sometimes argue with me, saying, “Oh, it just wasn’t a good day. I didn’t have any joys “ And again I I call them out on that. There are small joys every day. And the joys are simple. One of my joys that I’m going to write down tonight was that there was a random ladybug and there should be no red ladybugs at this time of year in Maine. But there was a random ladybug walking on my lamp this morning and it was just so lovely. It was so unexpected. It flew away after 5 seconds, but those 5 seconds filled me with joy.
We have those joys lots of moments during our days and if we spend the time reflecting on them at the end of our day, that’s what our brain gets to play with all night long. So, when my clients tell me that they can’t sleep or that they have restful sleep or that their brain is just spinning over their worries or their work anxieties, I get them to do it do this joyless and if they do it religiously. And as you know, 21 days to establish a habit. They start to notice changes in how they sleep and their levels of stress. And that leads into the bigger strategy, and that’s priming.
PRIMING THE MIND
Priming our brains is, to me, one of the most important tools a person can learn. What priming our brain means is we tell our brain what we want it to focus on. So I very often will tell people our brains are lazy. They will do exactly what we tell them to do. So if you tell your brain, “I’m just miserable. This day sucks the world sucks.” Guess what? [Your brain thinks] “Oh OK, that’s the script. I’m going to look for evidence to support that.
“If we tell our brains that the world is full of joys, the brain is going to say, “Oh, OK, that’s what we need to find evidence of.” And now not only have we told it that, but we validated it to our brains because we’re doing the joy list so our brain knows well at the end of the day, we’re going to be writing down. The brain says “OK, now I need to look for this because we got to write it down later on.
We can prime our brains to be miserable. Or we can prime our brains towards happiness and joy. It doesn’t discount some of the things that are hard in life. Some of the things that are are truly sad. But it allows the brain to bounce back faster and to look for a balance when those situations come up.
So using this the joy list, have you noticed any real changes in your clients?
Oh absolutely. Absolutely. What I love is some of my younger clients, so some of my younger. I mean, they’re typically young women right out of college or starting their career. When you’re young, you really can learn things faster…
So two of [my clients] that I worked with, they were isolated at home alone. They didn’t have roommates. They weren’t living with families and so they were not only stuck career wise. They were stuck in their life. They were developing depression, developing anxiety. Their life issues were getting in the way of their professional goals that they were originally working with me on. So, I had each of them do the joy list. Now, you can imagine how challenging that might be when you’re isolated in your house and don’t have a lot of interaction and a lot of experiences. But both of them started to do [the joy list] and it was around the same time actually.
I just simply remember one saying “Robin, I love working with you, but this is lame.” And that was verbatim what she said. And I said “OK, just try it. Just try it for a week and next time I see when I see you next week. We’ll touch base and see how it is.” She jumped on the call. And she looked visibly like a different person, she was so excited she was so enthusiastic. She said, “I’ve been sleeping great. I haven’t been worrying. I feel better.” She’s like how did that happen and I looked her. She’s like it can’t be the joy list. And I’m like did you change anything else? She’s like, “N, but it can’t be that simple.” Only, it can be that simple.
So I’d just like to kind of recap everything that we’ve gone through so far just for our listeners, because we have gone through quite a bit.
So to start with, we discussed CBT, that is cognitive behavioral therapy, which is basically exercises in which you change your thoughts in such a way that they then change your emotions and also your beliefs.And Robin, you recommended firstly that our listeners create a joy list, just noticing the things throughout the day that make them feel joyful, and then also priming the mind because there is neurological research that shows that the mind kind of perceives the world in a way based on our beliefs such that. For instance, if we believe the world is an unfair place, then our mind is going to continue to look for evidence of that.
So Robin, I just wanna I’m just on a more kind of personal note with your work. What would you consider the most rewarding thing out of what you do?
When I watch my clients achieve their vision so when I work with clients you know we start with their vision.
Where do they really like their ideal place? Whether it’s you know in in their within their organization, or just in their career, what is their dream? And then we break it down into goals and then we break those goals down into action steps. And to watch someone guide their own success. Cause I’m just there to. support them, help them clear out the cognitive cobwebs and the emotional blocks they’re the ones driving coaching, and that’s what I think is one of the beautiful things about coaching is that it is the client knowing themselves, they’re the experts on themselves. There’s just some thoughts and emotions that have gotten in the way of them being their authentic self so that it can attain their vision. But watching someone progress in a way they that they get to their vision and that moment when they realize “I did it! I I can do this!”
So we’re nearly at the end of this episode of the Daily Meditation Robin. Is there anything else that you would like to add or anything you would like our listeners to know?
I think the most important thing that is one of my biggest takeaways in my work is the idea that you don’t have to just accept the emotions that that hit you that you can choose to have them, but you can choose how long you have them.
So Robin it has been a real pleasure before we bring this episode to a close. How do our listeners get in contact with you?
Oh absolutely well, I am all over social media. I actively use Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Instagram tends to be a place where a lot of my clients use it as reminders. There’s a lot of motivational and inspirational reminders as well as videos from me and they can also look at my website which is easy enough to remember ’cause it’s my name. It’s doctor Robin buckley dot com.
All righty, so thank you Robin. And thank you everybody for listening. So once again a quick recap. You can choose how long you let your emotions last for you can use cognitive behavioral therapy exercises to change your emotions, such as by creating a joy list and priming your mind to create positive beliefs. And then your mind will look for the evidence that the world is a positive place.
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Featured In This Episode: Robin Buckley
Dr. Robin Buckley [Site] [Instagram], CPC, helps high-achieving clients thrive in their careers and relationships. She is an author, public speaker, and cognitive-behavioral coach who works with executive women and high-performance couples. Her proprietary coaching model uses a business framework and cognitive-behavioral strategies to support clients in creating and executing concrete, strategic plans for developing their careers and relationships. The founder of Insights Group Psychological & Coaching Services, Dr. Buckley has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and served as a doctoral professor and dissertation chair for students in business, leadership, education, and healthcare. She has published two books, including Voices From the Village: Advice for Girls on the Verge of Adulthood. Dr. Buckley is a columnist for Entrepreneur.com and has been featured as an expert on multiple media platforms, including Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, Nike, various podcasts, News Radio 96.7, and WGN Radio 720