Mervin Smucker. The essentials goals of cognitive therapy.

Cognitive therapy is based on the underlying rationale that the way in which individuals interpret and structure their experiences determine in large how they think, feel, and act. The therapy involves teaching individuals a blend of verbal, visual, and behavioural modification techniques designed to help them to identify, reality-test, and correct their own distorted cognitions and the maladaptive beliefs underlying them. When a person is able to think and act more realistically and adaptively to here-and-now issues, problems, and situations, an amelioration in mood and overall functioning generally ensues. Thus, the primary goals of cognitive therapy are to:

  • alleviate the emotional distress of patients by identifying and modifying their cognitive distortions, misinterpretations, self-defeating behaviors, underlying dysfunctional beliefs and maladaptive schemas.
  • have patients learn to incorporate the therapeutic techniques of the therapist so that they can, in effect, become their own cognitive therapist; that is, they learn to alleviate their own negative moods by becoming trained to logically  examine and modify their dysfunctional cognitions themselves.

Mervin Smucker


Mervin Smucker (2016). The Nature of Traumatic vs. Non-Traumatic Memory.

The nature of traumatic memories has implications for how trauma-related material is accessed, confronted, and processed in psychotherapy.  Traumatic memories are generally encoded and accessed differently from non-traumatic or narrative memories.  In contrast to narrative memories, traumatic memories are more likely to:

  • lack in verbal narrative and context;
  • involve primary sensory stimuli (visual, kinesthetic, auditory)
  • be encoded in the form of vivid sensations and images that are not accessible by linguistic means alone;
  • be state dependent;
  • be difficult to integrate via assimilation or accommodation because they are stored differently
  • dissociated from conscious control
  • “fixed” in their original form and remain unaltered by the passage of time.

Mervin Smucker

Mervin Smucker. A Stress Inoculation Training (SIT) Approach to Trauma and PTSD

Stress inoculation training focuses on teaching a traumatized individual to develop more effective coping skills with a particular focus on learning better problem-solving and anger control strategies, as well as self-calming, self-soothing, and relaxation techniques. Examples of techniques used in stress inoculation training include: early identification of anxiety-provoking cues and use of appropriate coping skills, thought-stopping, Beck/Ellis cognitive restructuring, guided self-dialogue, deep muscle relaxation plus breathing retraining, listening to relaxation and/or guided imagery tapes, biofeedback, social skills training, and distraction.

Mervin Smucker

Mervin Smucker (2016). Post-Imagery Rescripting SUDS Homework Form.

The Post-Imagery Rescripting SUDS Homework Form is designed to assist the client while listening to the audiotaped recording of an imagery rescripting session.

Post-Imagery Homework: Listen daily to audiotape of entire Imagery Rescripting session for one week. Record date and time of each audiotape listening session.

Record Subjective Units of Distress (SUDS: 0 – 100) at the beginning and end of listening to the audiotape. Also record the peak (highest) SUDS experienced while listening to the audiotape.

Self-administer the Post-Imagery Questionnaire (PIQ-A or PIQ-B) immediately after listening to the audiotape and record the total PIQ score.

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Mervin Smucker (2016). Meaning, Story and Psychotherapy-1.

Our minds crave stories to make meaning of events around us. If we cannot find available stories that produce a satisfactory explanation for a troubling event, our minds will create them—much as spiders spin webs—in an attempt to capture meaning. Many times these “self-created” stories draw on deeper narratives stemming from our perceptions of past life experiences, which we have internalized and of which we are often not fully aware. These deeper narratives have a profound effect on the cognitive and emotional templates we develop, which in turn can have a profound influence on our overall wellbeing, as well as on our worldview and how we interpret our lives.  Psychotherapy is, in part, about uncovering, confronting, and modifying the underlying stories we tell ourselves.

Mervin Smucker