Linking in with yesterday’s post about ways of thinking, have you ever thought about what might shape our thoughts? Or at least contribute to them? In therapy, we often call this our Frame of Reference. What does this mean? Frames of Reference are about how our beliefs and values are shaped through our lived experiences. A snapshot of what might make up our unique Frame will include our experiences of childhood, work, gender, sexuality, culture, family situation, work experiences, relationships and much, much more. We formulate our thoughts based on this information, most of the time. A frame of reference is a complex set of assumptions and attitudes which we use to filter perceptions to create meaning.

Notably, much of life’s satisfaction comes from experiences which broaden our perspectives and give us new ‘reference’ points. This is just as relevant for us when working with mental health challenges. We might not always understand them, or be able to identify with them, as the experiences might not be within our Frame of Reference. However, this does not mean we cannot support others. The way we communicate is paramount.