Reframing is a counseling technique used to help the client look at a problem from another perspective and facilitate change. According to Moller et al. (2020), the counselor “offers plausible alternative interpretations of the meaning or function of a situation or behaviour seen as problematic by clients” (p. 412). This cognitive strategy can help cope with mental illnesses, improve self-esteem, or handle relationship issues (Morin, 2021). At the same time, reframing may and may not be well-received by different clients in certain situations.
One example includes a scenario where a woman struggles with negative thoughts and self-talk, believing that she is unsuccessful and not good at anything. During the therapy session, the counselor may discover that, in fact, the client demonstrates achievements with regard to career, family life, and social relationships but continuously compares herself with others. The concept of success imposed by the media often leads to devaluation and low self-esteem (Morin, 2021). In this example, cognitive behavioral therapy and context reframing may be well-received by the client since redefining the ideas of success and being good at something can highlight her strengths and accomplishments. As a result, the client can shift her perspective and reduce negative thoughts and self-talk.
Another example is about a man with a chronic illness affecting the quality of his life. A counselor may suggest that he accepts the limitations and uses the reframing technique to view the disease as a reminder to pay more attention to his health throughout life. Such an approach may not be well-received by the client if he struggles with chronic pain and believes it is unfair to have such a condition. In this example, positive reframing might be unsuccessful since it requires the client to suppress his negative feelings and embrace the chronic disease when he is not ready. Overall, cognitive behavioral therapy must be used in accordance with the client’s situation and needs.
Moller, N., Vossler, A., Jones, D. W., & Kaposi, D. (Eds.). (2020). Understanding mental health and counselling. SAGE.
Morin, A. (2021). What is cognitive reframing? Verywell Mind. Web.