Use these Socratic Questions to gain clarity

This is using a set routine for questioning maladaptive thoughts. It’s named after the Greek Philosopher, Socrates. He argued that through systematic questioning we can understand and deconstruct ideas. In turn, this will either verify those ideas or dismiss them. With Socratic questioning, it is necessary to first identify the Cognitive Distortions. With logical questioning, it will either lend clarification to the your theory or challenge it.

Thoughts appear as dialogue in our minds, along with a few visual images. A trained therapist will encourage patients to share negative thoughts. Then, they will ask questions that might challenge such thoughts.

Typical self-questions could be:

• Are the thoughts you are having based on feelings or facts? What evidence do you have that verify your opinion?

• Is there an alternative explanation of how you are seeing a situation? If there is, how would that change the way you now feel?

• What are the consequences of the situations you perceive, and what is the best or worst case outcome? How will you cope with those outcomes?

• Will other people have the same answers to that thought as you do? If not, why would they come to different conclusions?

• Are you looking at only the black and white areas, and not seeking the grey parts?

There are no correct answers to such questions. It is a means of unravelling maladaptive thinking. This sort of session should help the you or the patient to analyse their negative thoughts. Helping to bring out the reasons why they think them. Then helping to defuse such thoughts.

This method also shows you how to question your own irrational fears. Socrates questioning does not necessarily need two people. Once the patient has been shown how to question themselves, they can use it on their own negative thoughts.

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