Posted on April 19, 2021
If you've been at Renfrew since the implementation of the Unified Treatment Model for Eating Disorders® (UT model), you know we like to talk about appraisals a lot! If you haven't, the basics of appraisals are the thoughts we have to make sense or "appraise" a situation. These thoughts are helpful to us so we know how to react in a situation. For example, when I'm crossing the street and see a car driving towards me, I don't need to think a lot about what that might mean—I know from previous experience to move faster and get out of the way. The problems with appraisal can happen, however, when we start applying that same idea to more situations and don't allow for any other possibilities.
Using my previous example of seeing the car when crossing the street, if I start running away every time I see a car, when I'm on the sidewalk, in the house, or watching TV, I'm going to get very tired, very quickly. While running away was helpful in that first situation, I'm not allowing the possibility for things to be different in the others. This is how it can feel when we continually apply the same appraisals to a variety of situations; we get trapped and feel like we always have to run away
To get out of these thinking traps, we can work on our creative thinking when we notice we keep jumping to the same, or similar, conclusions. Try to think of the most "out there" thing that could also result from a situation, or ask a friend for what they think it could mean. By giving ourselves more options in a situation, we give ourselves more choices for how we want to act in response. Try it for yourself and see how things might change or be different than you initially thought!