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Confronting Bad Behavior Is Not New


As the leadership and staff of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, we are shocked and saddened by the attack on the US Capitol and on American Democracy. As an organization committed to the understanding and improvement of human functioning and to the enhancement of health and well-being, ABCT stands firmly against threatening and hate-filled behavior, especially when directed toward those who are most vulnerable.

Perhaps this event is not surprising. There was plenty of press leading up to it. But to see the clips on news stations and to hear reactions to this event from leaders around the globe gives us pause. Violence, looting, and disregard for democracy are unacceptable. The psychological effects of exposure to terrorism, whether foreign or domestic, are well-documented and include posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and substance use. As a membership organization focused on advancing the scientific understanding, assessment, prevention, and treatment of human problems through the global application of behavioral, cognitive, and biological evidence-based principles we must make ourselves accessible to those who do not know how to cope with these terrifying current events.

What can you do as a citizen, therapist, or member? Be a good citizen. Model good behavior. The golden rule continues to work well as a starting point. Teach tolerance and teach what’s right. As parents, as teachers, as bosses, even as friends and colleagues, share your expectations and the strategies for accomplishing them. We live in turbulent times and need our members to be the leaders in their setting and to share their knowledge on combating anger, anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention based on science. As scientists, we must further speak out against the deliberate misinformation and distortions that fueled these actions and the blatant racism that buoyed them.

Below are actions you could consider taking:

Share your knowledge and skill sets: Inform local community groups, religious organizations, regional newspapers, websites, and other opportunities in your area that there are many evidence-based treatments to deal with anger, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and suicide prevention.

Teach tolerance. Don’t miss opportunities to teach our children what’s right and to share examples of how we live with our friends and colleagues. Reinforce the importance of listening.

Be Informed. Some of the following ABCT materials might help in understanding some of the problems and how best to overcome them and/or help others:

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy?

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