Socratic questioning

Daniel Badillo
A free video tutorial from Daniel Badillo
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
4.2 instructor rating • 1 course • 4,659 students

Lecture description

  • Develop an understanding of how socratic questioning is used to challenge automatic negative thoughts

  • Examples of questions used

Learn more from the full course

The ultimate guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - CBT

Learn how cognitive behavioral therapy is used to address depression anxiety trauma PTSD and negative behavior

05:06:12 of on-demand video • Updated April 2019

  • Develop an understanding of CBT principles and how they can be applied to address anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.
  • Identify specific negative thinking patterns and cognitive distortions.
  • Improve well-being and mood using evidence based strategies.
  • Apply CBT principles in therapy and in other mental health settings.
  • Increase positive thinking and improve satisfaction with self and life.
  • The origin and history of CBT
  • The structure of CBT and who uses it
English [Auto] Hey guys welcome back as Daniels. Good to see you again. Welcome to the current lecture which would be the first lecture in our discussion of interventions and the first intervention that we're going to look at. We'll be the Socratic method which is also called socratic questioning. You can see right here have a picture of Socrates the man himself right here on the screen and we'll start with a quote from Socrates. And it goes I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think so I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think this is what I had to remind myself. Pretty much every day every day I don't teach in therapy as a therapist I'm not a teacher. I am someone who instills ideas I can bring awareness of ideas to the person. But it is up to them to take what they absorb and to actually put it into practice and to make them think about what they're doing and what they want to do. I can't really change behavior myself. I can only expose the person to different ways that they can help themselves. Right the way I think about it is therapy is kind of like a cast when you hurt yourself right. You know when you break your leg you need a cast a cast helps keeps everything together keeps the bones in place keeps everything together and protected while it heals but it's up to the body to heal. And that's how I think of therapy. That's my perspective on therapy is that we as therapists are not healers what we are we are cast we hope the person stay together and help them stay afloat while giving them the opportunity to help themselves. All right. So that's how we operate and that's what our goal is. That's what our function is as a therapist in therapy. So I think this is a quote that makes sense and I think it gives a good idea of what therapy should be about and what the therapist role should be. Well one of the main roads is going to be providing different kinds of interventions. Right. So that's what we're here for and that's what we will talk about in the current discussion. We will focus in on again Socratic method and questioning and I'll give you a little bit more information on the intervention itself and how do we implement it. And all that good stuff. So stick around and let's go to the next part of the lecture. So what is the Socratic method again. Also referred to as socratic questioning you could use them interchangeably so that the Socratic Method is the exploring of how the client comes to a thought and examining evidence for the thought. So it's an exploration into the origin of the thought. There's always layers. Right. So when we talk about Socratic method we are talking about uncovering the different layers of the thought the different steps that led the person to the final thought. So it's about specifying and clarifying the thought itself. And it's about again exploration of the origin of the thought. We have to understand how the client got there. We also explored the implications and the consequences of the thought. What does the thought trigger in terms of behaviors or other thoughts or whatever it is. And then the last part of the method is adjusting the perspective to be less skewed and to be more realistic to kind of shift the thinking over to a more realistic thought rather than the negative thought that it is. So that's a quick breakdown of the Socratic method in terms of steps. So now let's look on forward and see a good example of the Socratic method. So the example here is going to be a flowchart and I'm going to read one part at a time. So this is basically like a conversation between a therapist and the client. This gives you an example of how we start with the Socratic method and how it ends and everything that goes on in the middle. So the original thought that we're addressing is I'm a terrible friend right. So this person in therapy they came out and they said you know what. I'm a terrible friend. I just feel like I'm a bad friend. So that's one socratic questioning comes into play. So the therapist will say Why do you believe your terrible friend this is trying to get down to the next layer of the thought the layer behind it. Right. So the response would be I'm not reliable my friend needed money. And I refuse to help him. Now we've kind of uncovered why this person has concluded that they're a terrible friend. We got the underlying reason here the person said that they are not reliable but they feel like they're not reliable that they're friendly to money and they did not help out their friend because they don't believe in you know lending money or whatever it is. So as a therapist our response might look like you know that sounds like a difficult decision. Are you always unreliable. Is this true that you are unreliable. Okay. So what what the therapist is doing here is they're taking the label that this person put on themselves. Okay so we got from the original statement that they're a terrible friend and now we have the underlying reason why they believe they're a terrible friend and we've identified this label that the person has applied to themselves that I'm not reliable label. So now what we want to do is we want to uncover why the person feels as if they're not reliable. We're going down to the next layer because the feeling of not being reliable is what's leading to the thought that they're a terrible friend. Right. So as a therapist who asks you know are you always unreliable Is this a true statement. So then the response would be well most of the time I'm unreliable. So the client is not going to be unreliable 100 percent of the time. That is the skewed reality that's just not going to be the truth. Right. So this gives us an opportunity to really showcase that this person's thought is not a valid thought. It's not an accurate thought. So as a therapist I would respond with Well is there a time you were reliable. This is the counter to the response that the person is reliable most of the time. So is there a time you were reliable and then the response would be I did help my friend once when they were going through a breakup right. The person thought about it but I know Am I right. When was I reliable. Oh yeah that one time when I helped my friend go through the same friend go through a breakup. You know they had a tough time and I was there for them right. So now you've given them an example of them being reliable. So this completely counters their thought. So my response would be I see. So it sounds like you're saying you're reliable at times but you want to be more reliable is at it. So you see here if you take this statement right here that the therapist made what they're doing is they're reflecting right they're reflecting the person's feeling about not being reliable and they're trying to understand where the person really wants to go with this. So they're identifying this desire to be more reliable and to be a better friend. So now we've reached a more realistic and accurate statement right where we're saying OK you are reliable at times but not all the time right. That in itself is a lot more realistic and it's you know as a thought so what do you want. You want to be more reliable. That's what it sounds like in your mind. If you are more reliable as a friend then you won't be a terrible friend you'll be a better friend. So you want to be more reliable. And the response to this would be I guess so. Yes I think that's what I would want. I would like that. All right. So now we've come to have the person accept that there is a limitation to their thinking. And we've kind of reframed this thinking to be more positive to be more goal oriented. Right. So now we have the person or the client saying OK. Yes you know I'm not unreliable all the time but I can improve and I think that's something that I want to do. So now as a therapist I would say How do you believe you can be more reliable in the future. How can you improve you know what can you do. So now as the final step to this what I'm doing is I'm getting the person to go into problem solving mode. We've identified the real core desire here the real the real core feeling of just wanting to be more reliable to be a more reliable friend. We got to there just by the statement of I'm a terrible friend. We've peeled back all the different layers to this onion and we got them to understand something that's more realistic about themselves. And now we've gotten into problem solving mode. Now we can say OK you want to be more reliable let's discuss different ways that you can do that and improve. So that is a more healthy way of thinking and that's what we want to do when we use the Socratic method. We want to peel back to different layers to be able to have the person accept a different reality that's more realistic and to get them to identify ways to improve their situation. That is the goal. And I think this example gives you a pretty good idea of how to get there using this method. So let's move on to the next part of the lecture and we'll discuss it a little bit more. Okay. So before we wrap this up we're just gonna briefly discuss four key elements to implementing the Socratic method successfully. And the first thing we want to do is ask informational questions and these are questions that the client will know the answer to. We don't want to be too abstract or too vague. We want them to be able to answer the question so we can get down to the nitty gritty into the different layers behind it. Right. You don't want to use a question like well how does that make you feel as very person oriented. That doesn't have a real concise answer to it. You know that could be very muddy. All right. That's too abstract. So what we want to say is Well what happened right before you felt that way. That is a better question for this method. What happened right before you felt that way because there is a concrete answer to that so we can identify that and then we can move on from there and keep breaking it down. It's hard to do that if you just you know ask a question that's very abstract and it's not going to go in any specific direction right. So that's the first thing ask asking very specific information or questions. The second part is the active listening and the reflection part. And that's something I mentioned during the example you you want to have the client feel as if they're being heard and you want to hear them. You need to understand the situation they're presenting so you can break it down very efficiently and effectively. And you also want to engage in active listening because you have to be able to keep all the different components of the story together in your mind. You're like a detective in a way and you have to remember all the evidence if you don't you're going to miss a part and you're going to lose out. Summarizing is also important because this keeps the client focused on the big picture and all the past details that we previously discussed. So since this method is using so many different layers or uncovering so many different layers we have to continually summarize what we previously discussed. So we kind of keep everything intact in the person's mind. We help them understand how we got there and why we got there or why we got here. How do we get to this to this point. And then the last part is the synthesizing and that's applying new information to original information or the original statement or thought. So this brings to light the awareness that has been developed. What we're doing is like in the previous example we're synthesizing the thought of I'm a terrible friend with the new information we have with the person wanting to be more reliable. Right. So we basically brought those two things together by synthesizing the points you know you thought this but this is what you really want. It sounds like so that's how we bring it together. So that's going to be the last important element of the Socratic method. And this is a very powerful tool that you can use for a lot of different distortions. And I really recommend it. So check out the resource that I have for the Socratic method as attached to this lecture give you a little bit more information on it and that'll be it for today. We're going to wrap up the lecture there. I hope you learned a great deal about this powerful tool and I will see you in the next lecture will we'll be discussing entirely different intervention. Until then. You take care of yourself and have a good one.