Cognitive distortions are common, entirely normal, and not our fault. None of us are 100% logical and rational like Mr Spock. But when unhelpful thinking styles are present in our lives to an excessive degree they are associated with poor mental health [3,4]. There is strong evidence that people with depression and anxiety think in characteristically biased and unhelpful ways . Recognizing and then overcoming our unhelpful thinking styles is frequently an important part of CBT treatment for anxiety and depression.
The number of ways that human thinking can be biased is very large (Wikipedia keeps an exhaustive list of cognitive biases) and although any could conceivably be affecting clients seeking therapy only a minority have traditionally been considered to be relevant to CBT practitioners. Some of the most important cognitive distortions that are frequently relevant to clinicians are outlined here.
Help your clients understand about automatic thoughtsYour clients need to understand that everybody experiences automatic thoughts and images. Essential information to impart is that automatic thoughts are involuntary cognitions which can be triggered by external stimuli in the world around us, or by internal stimuli consisting of our own emotions, body sensations, and other cognitive content (thoughts, images, memories, urges). Automatic thoughts are often highly believable, and if believed or allowed to pass unchallenged they can have a profound and detrimental effect upon our emotional state.
To help your clients learn to recognize unhelpful thinking styles in their daily life you can use the Dysfunctional Thought Record. This thought record has columns for recording standard information about situations, thoughts and emotions, but also contains prompts to help clients practice identifying the biases present in their thoughts.
Cognitive restructuringCognitive restructuring, or challenging the content of our negative automatic thoughts is a mainstay of CBT. We discuss the process of challenging our negative automatic thoughts extensively elsewhere, but clinicians should be aware of the wide variety of techniques available to them including:
Cognitive distortions are at the core of what many cognitive-behavioral therapists and other kinds of health professionals try and help a person learn to change their thinking style. By learning to correctly identify distorted thoughts, a person can then respond to the distorted thoughts by balancing them with thoughts that are more balanced, and based on fact/reality rather than negative feelings. By refuting negative thoughts over and over again, they will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.
Repeated patterns of unrealistic negative thinking are called cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortions are basically thinking mistakes. Learning how to recognize cognitive distortions can make it easier for kids to think more positively and feel better about themselves.
Learning about cognitive distortions and talking about them with your kids can help them think more positively. You can practice noticing negative thinking together. The goal is for kids to understand that we all make thinking mistakes sometimes and learn how to correct them.
CBT helps kids identify, challenge, and ultimately restructure their thinking so that they can live healthier, better adjusted lives. Taking a cue from CBT, parents, too, can help kids recognize cognitive distortions, and reduce their intensity.
To learn the cognitive distortions, you can help your children make flash cards so you can quiz each other. The Internet is full of colorful posters of the various distortions as well, and CBT phone apps often ask the user to label the distortions in their thinking from menus of choices.
Thought patterns can be changed through a process referred to in cognitive therapy as cognitive restructuring. The idea behind it is that by adjusting our automatic thoughts, we are able to influence our emotions and behaviors. This is the basis of several popular forms of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT).
If you feel that one or more of the above cognitive distortions is contributing to feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, we encourage you to consider finding a qualified therapist you trust to work with you and help transform your negative thoughts and beliefs into empowering affirmations that inspire and uplift you.
Seriously? Wow, you so easily blow off decades of pretty important work by some pretty respected people. (This is not Watsonian at all, by the way.) How nice it must be to feel so superior. Perhaps there are some self-serving distortions at play? Lol
Some teens have lots of anxious thoughts about the future. Some focus more on what other people are thinking. Some think about wanting to stay safe and see danger lurking around every corner. Others seem to always imagine the worst possible scenario!
Your therapist will encourage you to talk about your thoughts and feelings and what's troubling you. Don't worry if you find it hard to open up about your feelings. Your therapist can help you gain more confidence and comfort.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you recognise your distorted thoughts and learn to question them. With practice, you can learn to break the cycle of negativity that could be triggered by negative thinking, and replace it with a healthier, more balanced way of thinking.
At KlearMinds, we have experienced cognitive behavioural therapists that can help you address your individual issues and give you the tools to change your thoughts for the better. Please feel free to contact us.
...I had tried counselling before and thought it wasn't for me. I now realise that finding the right counsellor makes all the difference. As a result I feel in control, grounded and confident in all parts of my life and most importantly, I feel capable of moving forward...
The world is just a system that generates a series of positive, negative and neutral events randomly. It is a neurological fact that we (our brains) first process these events, i.e. interpret, understand and perceive, before anything else 2-7. Our interpretations lead to (1) thoughts and (2) physical responses which we then feel and which leads to our moods and emotions. Our moods and emotions (and behaviours) are just reactions to our thoughts and physical sensations (Fig 1) that then regulate our behaviour.
Our minds are also like the radio. Some rigorous mental tuning can make our depression better and we can feel good 1. This mental tuning involves breaking the vicious cycle of thoughts & sensations generating moods & feelings which in turn reinforce the thoughts & sensations causing spiraling emotions.
Meditation 8 (not discussed here) aims to break this loop by teaching you to observe the physical sensations associated with each of your emotions. When you can recognize those sensations in your body through practice, you train yourself not to react to them and succumb to the associated emotion, but instead remain equanimous. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 1,5, on the other hand, focuses on cutting the chain by learning to identify the thoughts that generate the bad feelings. By identifying the distorted, causal thoughts and converting them to reality, we can regulate our unhealthy beahviour.
You might be asking: How is CBT different than DBT? There are several distinctions and differences, but put simply, DBT is based on an affect-regulation model instead of a cognitive one. Eating disorder symptoms are thought of and understood to be mechanisms to cope with emotional vulnerability, as opposed to problems in cognition or poor interpersonal relationships.
The Cognitive Behavioral Thought Worksheet from Worksheeto is actually a compilation template consisting of a variety of thought worksheets related to cognitive behavior. Some of them are thought record templates, while others provide you with weekly trackers.
PsychPoint focuses on your automatic thoughts in this worksheet. You break down events into automatic negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, and then challenge your basic reactions to limiting events.
Our final entry from PsychPoint is a worksheet that focuses on countering your negative thoughts. It points out that negative thoughts may greatly impact the way you deal with daily life. Hence, it is very important to have a record of how you behave when faced with negative circumstances.
Thera Platform focuses on changing your anxious thoughts in two ways. The first is by helping you recognize disordered thinking patterns that contribute to your fears and worries. The second is by replacing those bad thoughts with good ones through more adaptive thinking. This thought record is meant to make you feel less anxious by breaking down your thoughts.
Here is a thought record from MyleMarks that is designed specifically for teens. It helps keep track of their negative thoughts throughout the entire week. If you have a week at home when you want to teach them how to deal with their automatic thoughts, this worksheet can definitely help.
After a lifetime of mistakes, mishaps, and missed deadlines, is it any wonder that adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) suffer dangerously low self-esteem and perpetually negative thoughts? Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented form of psychotherapy that aims to change these negative patterns of thinking and change the way a patient feels about her self, her abilities, and her future. Consider it brain training for ADHD.
Originally a treatment for mood disorders, CBT is based on cognitive restructuring, or the recognition that cognitions lead to emotional difficulties. Automatic thoughts are spontaneous interpretations of events. These impressions are susceptible to distortion, such as unfounded assumptions about yourself (or others), a situation, or the future. Such unhealthy internal dialogs hinder an individual from working toward an intended goal, working to develop productive new habits, or generally take calculated risks. 2b1af7f3a8