Pleasure and mastery events scheduling

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Individuals with depressive symptoms often stop engaging in behaviours that give them a sense of pleasure and achievement. This can lead to a cycle in which they become very inactive, leading to more negative feelings and lower mood and energy, which then leads to even less engagement in activities, and so on [276, 1209].

Pleasure and mastery events scheduling is a behavioural technique to help clients engage in activities that give them a sense of pleasure and achievement in a structured way. It can be very difficult for clients to simply resume previous levels of activity, so this strategy enables clients to use a weekly timetable in which they can schedule particular activities. It is important for clients to start with activities that are simple and achievable.

Clients might be encouraged to think of just one activity they can do for achievement and one for pleasure each day. Each week more activities can be added to form a list. A worksheet is provided in the Worksheets section of these Guidelines for clients to complete; it also includes a list of possible starting points. Clients may also need to be reminded of the fact that they deserve to feel good and that motivation generally follows activity rather than the reverse and, thus, the key is initiation of such activity. The gradual pattern of experiencing the emotional and physical benefits of pleasure and achievement can break the negative thought cycle.