Choose Your Filter! Explaining CBT to Teens

By Alison Whitehouse, Resident in Counseling

We all have what’s called “cognitive distortions” and “negative core beliefs”, that negatively shape how we think, feel, and act. How can we explain this to a teenager? Let’s use the metaphor of Instagram filters.

On Instagram, you have a picture to upload and a list of filters in which to apply to the same picture. Do I choose “Valencia”? “Aden”? Or maybe “Juno”? Each filter changes the pictures colors, lighting, contrast, etc. creating a different “vibe” for the picture, changing our perceptions of it. The same picture can now look VERY different.

Consider which filters really distort the image, make it darker, or hiding the beauty of the original image. It makes the picture seem unappealing, make us sad, or even cause anxiety. Instead, let’s pick filters that highlight the best qualities, yet not distorting it or changing it all together. We cannot not change the pictures we are given, but we can change our filters (AKA our perceptions) of ourselves and of the world.

This metaphor not only builds rapport with teens (because omg an adult knows what Instagram is!), but also empowers them to have control over their filters, and make the CHOICE to pick the healthy ones. #HealthierDaysAreHERE

Learn more about Alison HERE.

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