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The Changing Channels technique is a cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness strategy meant to improve cognitive self-control. Join IMCS Clinical Neuropsychologist Daniel LeGoff Ph.D., LP, in his explanation of this technique, its benefits and exercises that teach you how to consciously and willfully control your emotions for improved functioning.

What is the Changing Channels Technique?

The Changing Channels technique is a method of controlling distressing feelings by recognizing when you’re thinking about negative emotions and consciously “changing the channel” to think about positive emotions.

Benefits of using this technique:

  • Increased ability to recognize and change negative thoughts
  • Increased ability to tolerate stress
  • Improved mood
  • Improved self-efficacy, the belief in your ability to succeed in any situation 

Other details that support this technique:

Conscious control over positive emotional images can interrupt and replace negative images and affect.

Changing Channels technique exercise:

  1. Brain-storm positive images and experiences, e.g., vacation, family time, favorite foods.
  2. Order these images into a hierarchy of low, moderate, and high emotional-content.
  3. Brain-storm negative images and experiences, e.g., personal hardship, accidents, illness.
  4. Order these images into a hierarchy of low, moderate, and high emotional-content.

Now you want to initiate the Changing Channels technique in three stages:

  • First, practice by imagining a low negative emotional-content image and then changing channels to image a low positive emotional-content image.
  • Next, practice imagining a moderate negative emotional-content image and then changing channels to image a moderate positive emotional-content image.
  • Finally, practice imagining a high negative emotional-content image and then changing channels to image a high positive emotional-content image.

Practicing the Changing-Channels technique can generalize to daily situations, resulting in an overall improvement in function.

For more small group exercises and practice in clear communication, be sure to read more in our Practice Exercises blog series and learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that change outcomes.

Dr. Daniel LeGoff, Ph.D., LP, is IMCS’s Clinical Quality Assurance Advisor. He is a licensed neuropsychologist with more than 25 years of clinical experience, having held many prestigious clinical and teaching positions at Ivy League universities and government and healthcare institutions nationwide. Dr. LeGoff was embedded as a neuropsychologist at a rehabilitation program at a large workers’ compensation organization. A world-renowned speaker, author and expert in personal development and cognitive behavioral therapy, Dr. LeGoff has conducted professional training worldwide.

IMCS – Integrated Medical Case Solutions – is the premier behavioral medicine network for pain and trauma response with evidence-based outcomes and a proven track record for transforming workers’ compensation cases. IMCS makes intervention efficient with a national network of 1,500+ psychologists and psychiatrists in all 50 states.