Sarah's Case - Continued - Step 2 Reframe

This blog is a continuation of Sarah’s case working through feelings of depression and anxiety using a technique called the Four Step method. Feel free to look at our previous 2 blogs on Sarah’s case for a history of her story.

After suffering psychological and physical symptoms, until now, Sarah has learned to identify her deceptive brain messages and call them what they really are. In other words, Sarah recognizes feeling of anxiety and can tell herself; it is this anxiety raising her heart rate and making her uncomfortable. In the same way, she recognizes that the depression is why her muscles are weak and she has no energy. This is the first step in the Four Step Method, to Relabel.

Next Sarah must learn to Reframe. This is to “change your perception of the importance of the destructive brain messages; say why these thoughts, urges and impulses keep bothering you: they are false brain messages (It’s not ME, it’s just my BRAIN!)”. (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

There are a few ways Sarah can Reframe these deceptive brain messages: 1) by attributing them to her bad brain wiring or biology with the phrase “it’s not me, it’s my brain!” 2) by realizing “I’m feeling rejected – this is social pain” and 3) by recognizing the patterns of inaccurate thinking she is engaging in, known as thinking errors.  (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

For Sarah to really start changing her perspective, she had to learn recognize signs of depression/anxiety so she could see the negative thoughts were not representation of who she was. She could Relabel tiredness, body aches and negative thoughts as depression, but not as who Sarah is. Then she could Reframe those symptoms in many ways by telling herself: ‘okay, these feelings aren’t really me, this is some kind of problem with serotonin or who knows what in my brain.’  Or, I could say ‘oh, okay, so that’s why I’m feeling like I hate myself.  That’s what depression is.  Well, that’s what I’m feeling and you know what, that makes a lot of sense’.”  Reframing her depression in these ways helped, she says, “because now at least I knew why I felt that way.  Now I can see that it’s just the depression, not me.” (Schwartz & Gladding, 2011)

This process of Relabeling and Reframing are 2 big steps for Sarah. Now that she can accomplish this, she can now refocus her attending on an activity that is productive. This is Step 3 in the Four Step Method.  Join us next week as we discuss this next step in detail.

Also for more information on this treatment method or for any questions, feel free to visit our contact page on our website


Schwartz, Jeffrey M. & Gladding, Rebecca (2011). You are not your brain. New York: Penguin.

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    David Borghini (Tuesday, 03 April 2012 01:14)

    I appreciate your topics on your site, but especially like your site.

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