When you have stared down a difficult situation, have you ever said something like this to yourself… “I feel overwhelmed. There must not be a solution here.” Or what about… “I made an error at work; I can’t do anything right.” You are probably like most people in that these thoughts have popped into your head at one point or another. These are both examples of negative and untrue thinking patterns called cognitive distortions. Left unchecked, these thoughts can turn into actions. They can make a hard situation more difficult. They can even create a problem where none existed previously. But many people are fighting these cognitive distortions. They are working with a counselor and participating in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to identify these negative thought patterns and replacement before they lead to negative behaviors. In the process, these people are often finding how much power they have control their own feelings, thoughts, and actions.
“Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience,
independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.” —Stephen Covey
CBT often empower people to do what Stephen Covey says, to choose, response, and change. Many people want to make a positive change in their lives but do not know what their next steps might be. CBT often provides those next steps. CBT often involves people…
- Learning just how much control they have to focus their thoughts, feelings, and actions on positive outcomes.
- Working within a mutual relationship with a therapist. The therapist may be an expert on identifying negative thought patterns, but clients are experts on themselves.
- Addressing a specific challenging they are facing in a way that is goal-oriented and practical.
- Learning emotional and cognitive skills that they will use after CBT has ended.
Thriveworks Grand Rapids offers cognitive behavior therapy, and our counselors have walked with clients as they make hard but good changes within their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The Problem of Cognitive Distortions
People’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are all intertwined, and so, a negative, untruth thought pattern can escalate and pose significant challenges within an individual’s life. Cognitive distortions are untrue and negative perspectives upon reality that can fuel negative emotions and poor choices. Cognitive behavior therapy, therefore, seeks to counteract these cognitive distortions, and the first step is often acknowledging and identifying them. All the cognitive distortions that plague people could never be listed, but a few examples include:
- Overgeneralization can happen when people draw a universal principle from one experience. Just because something happens one time, does not mean it will happen again.
- Emotional reasoning can happen when people equate their internal feelings with an external reality. Just because people feel a certain way, does not make it true. Many intelligent people feel dumb at some point in their lives.
- Polarized or “black and white” thinking can happen when people engage in all-or-nothing thinking. People can make mistakes every day, but that does not make them incompetent.
- Blaming can happen when people actively look for fault. They may accept too much responsibility or no responsibility.
- Catastrophizing can happen when people anticipate the worst. A small detail that does not fall into place does not mean that everything will go wrong.
- Control fallacy can happen when people feel totally out of control—everything happens because of luck or fate or the universe or a higher power. It can also happen when people take control when they should not—like when children think they caused their parents’ divorce.
- Filtering can occur when people deny the reality of positive experiences and only acknowledge the negative. They filter out the good so that only the bad remains in their perspective.
- Fallacy of fairness can occur when people compare themselves to others. They judge life by what others have/do not have.
How Could CBT Help?
The goal of cognitive behavior therapy is to replace these distortions with more accurate and positive thoughts about reality. One way that a counselor may help clients accomplish that end is through an exercised call the three-column technique. On a piece of paper, people draw three columns.
In the far-left column, they will record a situation and how they are thinking about it. For example, they may have been awake all night because of their insomnia, and they may think that they will not be able to sleep tonight either. In the middle column, people can name the cognitive distortion that is affecting their thinking. In this case, it is an overgeneralization—the inability to sleep one night does not mean an inability to sleep the next night. In the third column, people will write a true, positive thought response such as, “I will keep working at my sleep routine and doing what I can to help my body rest.”
CBT Counseling at Thriveworks Grand Rapids
Cognitive behavior therapy is a proven technique for a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to…
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Mood swings
- General health issues
- Self-destructive habits
- Anger management
- Child and adolescent issues
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Relationship issues
If you want to try cognitive behavior therapy for a particular challenge in your life, Thriveworks Grand Rapids has appointments available. When you contact our office, you may have your first session within 24 hours. We also accept most insurance plans.
If it is time for a positive change in your life, consider working with Thriveworks Grand Rapids. Call us today.