Cognitive Behaviour Therapy & Overcoming Fears

What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a mix of two approaches: Cognitive Therapy (CT) and Behaviour Therapy (BT). While CT on its own focuses on how an individual’s thoughts and beliefs add on to their negative emotions, BT focuses on how the individual’s behavioural patterns arise and how they could be changed to alter the person’s mood. CBT helps to tackle people’s negative thoughts, actions and emotions by adopting solution-based strategies (Burford, 2019) and exposure therapy (Turner, 2019). This happens by disputing negative thoughts and rewiring cognitive routes in the brain to adapt to new situations (Burford, 2019).
Cognitive distortions
People with maladaptive thought patterns are inclined to adopt unhealthy habits such as consuming alcohol, abusing drugs and smoking. Maladaptive thought patterns could also affect an individual by preventing them from ending relationships that lack a direction because they are afraid. People’s opinions and the fear of failure may stop individuals from trying new things. These maladaptive thought patterns are known as cognitive distortions. The following are a few types cognitive distortions (Poulsen, 2019):

  • Overgeneralization – Forming a general conclusion thinking that one bad experience means every other experience will also be the same
  • Catastrophizing – Assuming the worst for something that has not yet happened
  • Personalisation – Believing that every action of other people is a reaction to them
  • Filtering – Focusing on the negative details and ignoring any other positive details
  • Blame – Either accepting all the blame for every situation or directing the blame on others even if you had a part to play in it
  • Labelling – Thinking that you are a loser or you always make a mistake instead of analysing the whole situation and being fair to yourself

How it works?
The relationship with a therapist in CBT is goal driven. Individuals will be exposed to their fears at a pace that is comfortable for them. After sessions, they usually have homework to do such as being aware of their thoughts in different situations and noting them down on a worksheet that is provided in therapy (Burford, 2019)
Case studies
A therapist worked with a child who was afraid of vomiting. Through exposure therapy, they took small steps that was comfortable for the child. The therapist started with purchasing vomit spray from Amazon and vomit-flavoured jelly beans and they heard vomit sounds through YouTube videos. After reaching a certain level of comfort, they created fake vomit and pretended to vomit in the bathroom. Through these exposures, the girl was able to remain in the same classroom when someone vomited instead of leaving the class like she normally would and then missing school for the whole week due to her fear (Turner, 2019).
CBT Workshop
The workshop provides participants with an understanding of the theory and practice of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). Participants will learn the essential core skills required to practice CBT clinically. Participants would be fully equipped with CBT knowledge and skills upon completing the workshop. Graduates from this programme will be able to handle the various applications of CBT on clients suffering from possible symptoms such as Depression and/or Anxiety. Other psychological issues such as Anger Management, Insomnia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post-traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) will also be covered. Upon graduation, graduates may seek clinical supervision with APACS clinical supervisor to further hone their CBT skills, and register themselves as a member of APACS.
For more information, click the link:

Burford, M. (2019). Everything You Need to Know About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from
Poulsen, T. (2019). How to understand that you need to change your life right now. Retrieved from
Turner, C. (2019). How To Help A Child Struggling With Anxiety. Retrieved from

OCD shoes

Daily Battles with OCD

The term “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” (OCD) is quite commonly used among people to attribute a behaviour. The most common behaviour that people are aware of is washing of hands, excessively. However, OCD is more than just about washing hands (Baker, 2018). OCD is among one of the top three mental disorders in Singapore and it has been increasing over the years. Currently, 1 in 28 people have OCD (Chandra, 2019).
What is OCD?
OCD consists of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions refer to a constant and repeating thought while compulsions refer to repeating a behaviour to get rid of the thought (Yufeng, 2018). The repeating thought increases anxiety. While continuously repeating a behaviour to get rid of the anxiety, the person creates a response loop. This response loop and anxiety increases over time where they begin to affect one other (Yufeng, 2018). When this behaviour begins to affect a person’s daily life where they are not able to focus on their tasks or take too much time to repeat their behaviour, they are diagnosed with OCD (Baker, 2018)
What causes it among young adults?
People between the ages of 18 to 34 are more likely to be affected by OCD. People within this age group face different concerns such as getting a place in university, getting employed after graduation or having relationship issues. Such situations affect an individual emotionally and socially because they have to cope with major changes in their lives and face new challenges (Choo, 2018).
What should you do?
Early signs of OCD can be often overlooked because they start off mild. However, the symptoms increase over time. For example, a person who washes his hands often may continue to increase the number of times he washes his hands to the point it disrupts his daily life (Baker, 2018). It is important to be self-aware of your behaviour and analyse what makes you repeat a certain behaviour. If the reason is irrational, seeking help from a professional during the early stages is recommended. People in the surroundings such as family and friends play an important role in observing repetitious behaviours that may be early signs of OCD. OCD disrupts a person’s daily life. Learning how to manage it will reduce an individual’s anxiety and they will be able to live a functional life. 


Baker, J. (2018). OCD one of the most common mental disorders in Singapore. Retrieved from
Baker, J. (2018). “I thought I was going crazy”: OCD, an often misunderstood mental health condition. Retrieved from       mental-health-condition-often-misunderstood-11046570
Chandra, A. (2019). Don’t neglect obsessive compulsive disorder; seek help. Retrieved from
Choo, C. (2018). Mental illness more prevalent among young adults, OCD one of top disorders in S’pore. Retrieved from
Yufeng, K. (2018). Study: OCD in top three mental disorders, sufferers seeking help later. Retrieved from
Sue-Ann, C. (2019). More teens in Singapore seeking help at IMH for school stress. Retrieved from


Anxiety Picture

Combating Anxiety

Have you ever wondered what anxiety is? Or if anxiety is good or bad?

Most of us experience anxiety that comes when we have to meet deadlines at work or prepare for a national exam. Feeling some level of anxiety during such periods prompt people to act so that they are able to meet their deadlines (Remes, 2018).
However, when the feelings develop in non-threatening situations constantly, the person could have an anxiety disorder. A person who has difficulties focusing on their priorities because they are always worrying about things that do not have much importance could have generalized anxiety disorder. Someone who feels sudden intense fear that comes out of nowhere and causes their heart to beat fast while they feel dizzy could have a panic disorder (Remes, 2018).
Why does this happen?
Over the past year, there has been an increase in youth suicides. Youths face issues that range from academic, to relationships and even concerns about their future (Min, 2019). Such pressure could arise from the surroundings of the youth such as school, home and from themselves (Sue-Ann, 2019).  While self-image is important, sometimes, that increases a person’s anxiety level. People tend to rehearse what they want to say over and over in their mind because they want it to be perfect and not embarrass themselves. In most situations, they tend to imagine the worst thing that could happen. This excessive worrying stops them from voicing out opinions or showing their talents (Remes, 2018).
What can you do?
Try not to avoid thinking about worrying thoughts because the more you try to avoid, the more it will plague your mind. Instead, replace your thoughts by focusing on things in your surroundings. This will increase your awareness and slowly minimize the focus on the worries. 
Focus on the present moment. If you find yourself worrying about something that has not happened, ask yourself questions such as “What am I doing right now?”.
This question will make you aware of your surroundings and you can, then, consciously focus on the smell of the cookies next to you or the beautiful scenery in front of you that you have been missing out (Remes, 2018).
If you find yourself drowning in anxiety, reach out for help. Schools have counsellors and programs such as peer mentoring to assist students in need. If you are an adult in the working environment, you could reach out to a colleague, senior in your work environment, family, friends or a professional. Do not let anxiety stop you from shining.
If you know someone who has anxiety, be empathetic to their situation and let them know they have someone to talk to. Avoid placing demands on them and allow them to move at their own pace.
Let’s build a happy and healthy environment for everyone!


Min, A. (2019). MOE, MSF ‘very concerned’ about spike in youth suicides; experts say more support and awareness necessary. Retrieved from spike-in-youth-suicides-experts-say-11775260
Remes, O. (2018). Commentary: No marks, scars or bruises but anxiety more debilitating than some illnesses. Retrieved from  best-to-cope-10596732
Sue-Ann, C. (2019). More teens in Singapore seeking help at IMH for school stress. Retrieved from


Recognising Self-Sabotage

Do you often hold yourself back from doing what you really want to do? Are you plagued by constant criticism? Do you feel that you are a disappointment?

These behaviours and thoughts can be explained by self-sabotage. Self-sabotage occurs when people doubt their potential because of the constant thought that they don’t have the ability to do something (Patel, 2018). The doubts come because of a person’s thought pattern. These thought patterns can be triggered by any turning point in a person’s life where they are consumed by anxiety and panic if they are not successful. Due to these thoughts, they prevent themselves from taking the next step to gain new experiences or achieve success (Hillyer, 2019).


Why this happens?

Humans are programmed to act in certain ways. One such way is the ability to protect ourselves. However, there are times when we are not consciously making decisions. We may assume that the journey may be rough and success is not guaranteed. Hence, we stay within our comfort zone. This prevents us from learning about our strengths and giving ourselves the opportunities we need to achieve greater success (Hillyer, 2019).


Overcoming self-sabotage behaviours

  1. Be Aware

It is important to be aware of your thoughts and emotions.  Ask yourself why are you avoiding the task. Is it because of the fear of failure? Work around it by reframing your mind. You will not know how successful you can be or even know what you can learn from a situation unless you put yourself out there(Hillyer, 2019).

  1. Plan

Planning is important. But it is also important that you do not overdo it where you are sure to fail. Give yourself time to learn and make mistakes. Take one step at a time and be comfortable with the idea that you do not have to know everything. This mindset will slowly minimise self-doubts(Hillyer, 2019).

  1. Perfection

Perfection does not exist anywhere. Nature has its flaws and so do humans. It is good to have expectations because that moves you forward. But it is detrimental to have high expectations because you are not in complete control of the environment around you. There will be times you will not meet your expectations and you have to be comfortable with the idea that it is alright and that you are doing the best that you can(Patel, 2018)!


  1. Hillyer, R. (2019). Overcome Your Patterns Of Self-Sabotage In Life And    Business. Retrieved from  
  2. Patel, D. (2018). 8 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Success. Retrieved from

Emotional Acceptance in Families and Boys

Boys are taught to “man up” by parents and men acknowledge that they have learned to not express their pain. Phrases like “boys don’t cry” were modelled by caregivers such as fathers (Brownhill, Wilhelm, Barclay, & Parker, 2002). Boys are humiliated when they play with dolls and they are expected to do well in sports (Reichert, 2019). However, parents need to understand that every child has different strengths and a child who is not good at sports, may be talented in music. It is important to view your child as a person with a different personality from others and to encourage the child to hone their skills. By not allowing boys to express emotions freely, they grow up to be men who lack emotional intelligence.



In an Asian country such as China, a real man is required to be slim, tough and independent. A child who lacks these qualities and is emotionally fragile or weak-minded is not considered a man. A seven-day boot camp exists to strengthen boys between six and twelve years old. In the camp, boys learn how to sumo wrestle, play American football, tidy their room and be independent by washing clothes by hand. They are also taught what it means to be a man and ideas such as shouldering burden and being the pillar of support for their family are instilled in them through conversations, “man’s cheer” and men’s pledge where they have to assert their strength (Paulo, 2018).

How does a society define “emotionally fragile”? Where do emotions get transferred to if boys are taught to no longer be emotionally fragile and that they should be perfectly fine to shoulder heavy burden?

Although giving boys the opportunity to learn how to wash clothes and tidy their room is good, it should not be restricted to boys alone. Such life skills should be taught to all children.


What should parents do?

All children go through a whirlpool of emotions and gender should not be the main focus when dealing with it. Below are some steps for parents to raise emotionally intelligent boys:

1. Listen

When parents start to listen to what their sons are saying, it creates room for boys to express their emotions. Over time, parents become the people they transfer their tensions to and the boys will be able to trust their parents, restore their own mind and have a clearer mind when making decisions. Parents need to ensure that they do not remind their sons of any stereotypical roles they think the child should conform to. Instead, this should be an opportunity for them to build a bond with their sons and to ensure he is able to acknowledge his emotions and verbalise it (Reichert, 2019).

2.  Advocate

Listening is the first step. Advocating is the second. Some boys may still be unsure about what they should do during their difficult phase. Parents should acknowledge the struggle and display empathy. Together, the parent and son can brainstorm ideas to decide what can be done. Although the first instinct for most parents is to provide advice, it is important to ask yourself what your son needs when he is opening up to you. Does he need scolding or a warm hug? Is he able to figure things out on his own? What kind of pressure is he facing right now?

3. Identity

As boys start going to school, they may face pressure from friends who are brought up with male stereotype. It is important for your son to develop his identity from young by instilling good values and the kind of person he desires to be in the world. A child who is accepted by his parents and has a strong sense of self in terms of values and behaviour will be able to resist conforming to stereotypes. However, the child may still be curious about why other students behave a certain way and they may show signs of adopting some behaviour. During these moments, it is important that the parent does not react negatively. Instead, they need to have a healthy conversation on the behaviour and remind the child of the values taught (Reichert, 2019).


These steps apply to both, male and female children. However, these steps are commonly seen when parents are bringing up a female child compared to a male child. It should be understood that by giving your child a listening ear, your child knows their emotions matter and you are giving them an opportunity to be able to regulate their emotions. Let’s raise emotionally intelligent boys and girls!



Brownhill, S., Wilhelm, K., Barclay, L., & Parker, G. (2002). Detecting Depression in Men: A Matter of Guesswork. 259-280. doi:10.3149/jmh.0103.259

Paulo, D. (2018). ‘Masculinity crisis’ in China leads parents to enrol kids in boot camp.      Retrieved from crisis-china-leads-parents-enrol-boys-boot-camp-10869716

Reichert, M. (2019). 5 Ways To Help You Raise Emotionally Intelligent Boys. Retrieved from emotionally-intelligent-boys

Reichert, M. (2019). Parenting after #MeToo: Changing the skewed ideals of masculinity  should start at home. Retrieved from       sexual-harassment-boys-parenting-toxic-masculinity-a8882236.html’