Have any thoughts like these ever arisen during a particularly difficult situation? “This is so unfair.” … “I cannot do anything right.” … “I feel trapped. I have no options.” More than likely, you have thought these or something similar. Most people have struggled with these negative thought patterns at some point in their lives. They are called cognitive distortions, and these negative, untrue thoughts can turn into self-sabotaging actions.
People’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are all intertwined, and cognitive distortions and maladaptive thinking patterns can make difficult situations worse or even create problems for people. Cognitive distortions present a significant problem when they take over an individual’s thinking, but many people are working with mental health professionals to fight back. They are reaching out for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), an evidence-based psychotherapy approach that can replace these cognitive distortions with true, positive thought patterns.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind,
but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” —Jimmy Dean
What Does CBT Do?
CBT helps people who are ready to make changes in their lives by first making a change within themselves. People cannot always change their circumstances, and they cannot change other people. But people can change the way they think. CBT shows people how they can effectively rewire their existing cognitive patterns, finding healthier ways to approach reality. During cognitive behavioral therapy at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO, therapists and clients develop a mutual, trusting relationship. They define the client’s goals. The therapist uses CBT to address a particular, well-defined challenge at a time. They often empower clients to discover how much control they exert over their own feelings, thoughts, and actions. The emotional and cognitive skills that clients learn at CBT may help individuals for years to come—even after they stop attending CBT. Working together is the formula for change.
Thriveworks in Littleton, CO has counselors and therapists on staff who specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy, and have helped many clients make meaningful but challenging life adjustments. These clients did not set out to change the world; they set out to change themselves, and in the process, they are leading more fulfilling lives.
What Are Cognitive Distortions?
Cognitive distortions are exactly what their name suggests—they are thoughts that misinterpret reality. They are untrue and negative perspectives and can lead to negative and unhelpful actions. At Thriveworks in Littleton, CO, mental health specialists might use cognitive behavioral therapy to interrupt these negative thoughts before they advance to action. First, these cognitive distortions must be identified. A few examples include the following:
- Emotional reasoning equates people’s emotions with an external reality. Not everyone who feels guilty is guilty. Not everyone who feels competent is competent. Feelings aren’t facts.
- Polarized or “black and white” thinking leaves no room for grey area. This is an all-or-nothing perspective where everything is terrible or awesome. People are good or bad.
- Filtering looks at the world with a lens that filters out anything that is good or positive so that people only acknowledge the negative within a situation.
- Fallacy of fairness occurs when people compare themselves to others and judge based upon an arbitrary standard of fairness.
- Blaming looks for fault wherever it can be found and even where it cannot be found. People often blame their own actions and responses on others.
- Catastrophizing means you expect disaster and harm even when there are no signs that these may be a reality.
- Control fallacy has two versions. External control means people feel as if fate, luck, or the universe is victimizing them. Internal control means they accept too much responsibility for other people’s actions.
- Overgeneralization takes one experience and extrapolates a universal principle from it that may or may not be true.
How Might Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help?
CBT utilizes many different techniques to identify these cognitive distortions and then replace them with healthier thinking patterns. Often, clients who participate in CBT have homework each week to enhance the effectiveness of their therapy. In particular, CBT may help individuals in the following ways:
- Teaching them to distinguish between thoughts and feelings. While many people experience them as the same, emotions and cognitions are different, and people can learn to differentiate them.
- Raising their self-awareness. In particular, individuals often learn how feelings and thoughts affect each other and affect behaviors. This is where homework may come in: Self-awareness is a skill that may need to be practiced. Therapists may prescribe exercises such as journaling or mindfulness techniques.
- Discovering their own automatic feelings and how they might uniquely respond to situations without intentional effort. These will be unique to each individual, so self-awareness is key.
- Giving them a critical distance to evaluate their own feelings and thoughts. It is difficult to separate oneself from one’s thoughts and feelings, but it can be done.
- Practicing emotional and cognitive skills that allow them to sense when cognitive distortions have invaded their thinking and that allow them to adjust their thinking before they act.
What Issues Can CBT Address?
When you think about your own life for a moment, what is happening? One of cognitive behavioral therapy’s strengths is that mental health professionals at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO can use it to treat a variety of challenges within an individual’s life. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Mood swings
- Self-destructive habits
- Child and adolescent issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Anger management
- General health issues
- Relationship issues
Explore the Potential of CBT at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO
If you want to meet with a counselor for cognitive behavioral therapy, know that Thriveworks in Littleton, CO has appointments available. We also accept most forms of insurance. Our exceptional counselors offer full sessions in-person or online. And they can often meet with new clients as early as 24-48 hours within an initial call.
Let’s work together for a positive change. Call Thriveworks in Littleton, CO today.