The “Three C Method” For Healthy Justifications

Three C Method

The simplest way to learn cognitive therapy is via the “Three C Method”

(see also here and here).

Under the guidance of Beck at the University of Pennsylvania, my colleagues and I developed this method back in the late 1990s. We were working with both folks who had attempted suicide and who had psychotic problems. Thus, we needed a really simple method that people could easily learn and apply.

The first “C” refers to catch it.

This is the process of becoming aware of the thinking process itself. This involves the reflective ability to realize that (a) thoughts are not facts and (b) the capacity to slow one’s self down and reflect on one’s thinking. It is much easier said than done, especially if you are emotional. But it is a skill that can be learned with practice.  

The second “C” refers to check it.

This refers to the process of asking two primary questions about the justification, which are:

(a) Is it accurate? and

(b) Is it helpful?

Go to the list of justifications at the beginning of the blog post and ask these questions. You will see that the thoughts expressed are likely neither fully accurate nor particularly helpful. 

Read 32 Thought Provoking Questions That are Reflections on the Self

The third “C” is to change it.

This refers to the capacity to develop more sophisticated, accurate, and helpful beliefs.

The examples provided show how unhealthy justifications can be transformed into healthier ones.

A person who learns the Three C Method well is someone who learns how to shift from the first set of automatic thoughts to the second. The bottom line is that we should all strive to be good parents to ourselves or try our best to live as sages do. Part of that involves developing a healthy system of justification, and the Three C Method is a simple way to start down that road.


Written by: Gregg Henriques, Ph.D
Originally appeared on: Psychology Today
Republished with permission.
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The “Three C Method” For Healthy Justifications
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