In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Core beliefs can be seen as the deepest most fundamental view of the self-concept.
Core beliefs are beliefs that have been reinforced over a life time, and thus can been very difficult to change. Core belief are separated into three categories 1) beliefs about the self 2) beliefs about our environment (others) and 3) beliefs about the future and what it will look like.
Core beliefs are part of what can be considered a four part system The system can be imagined as an iceberg in which self-talk represents the most superficial part of the system that can actually be seen or in this case heard. Just beneath the water are distortions, followed by assumptions and finally the deepest and largest portion of the iceberg is represented by core beliefs which are largely unconscious, but which have a huge impact, as they drive the system into action. When negative core beliefs are triggered, negative self-talk will be triggered, which will have a negative emotional and physical impact. Thus, the main goal in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is to challenge negative core beliefs to create and create new positive and healthier core beliefs and consequently a more positive and healthier system.
In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy one way to challenge core beliefs is by using what is called the double standard technique in which a psychotherapists asks their client to imagine someone else expressing the same self-talk as they are, and then asks the client to express what they would say to the other person.