Have you ever told yourself things like… “this situation is hopeless.” … “I’m a completely failure.” … “It is not fair that this keeps happening to me.” Most likely you have because most people have. These thoughts are examples of cognitive distortions—negative thought patterns that are not true. Everyone engages in some form of negative thinking, and when people do, they can make difficult situations worse or even create challenges that did not previously exist. The good news is that these cognitive distortions can be corrected, and many people are learning how to make adjustments in their thinking by working with a therapist and going through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). People cannot always change their circumstances, but they can change their perspective and their thinking.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind,
but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” —Jimmy Dean
A psychotherapeutic model, CBT helps people who may be ready to make adjustments in their lives, but they may not know how. During cognitive behavior therapy…
- Clients and therapists work together in a mutual relationship. Therapists may be experts on cognitive distortions, but clients are experts on themselves.
- Clients often learn how much power they have over their own behaviors and thoughts.
- A specific life challenge is addressed so treatment is very practical and goal-oriented.
- Clients learn cognitive and emotional skills that require practice, and these skills often benefit clients long after therapy has finished.
Are you looking for Prince William counseling? The therapists, psychologists, and counselors at Thriveworks Manassas, VA offer cognitive behavior therapy. Our staff has seen clients reach difficult and meaningful life goals—not because these clients tried to change the winds but because they chose to change their own sails—themselves.
The Root of the Problem: Cognitive Distortions
Cognitive distortions are inaccurate and negative perspectives upon reality. Left uncorrected, negative thinking can lead to negative behavior. CBT seeks to intervene before cognitive distortions are escalated to poor life choices. The first step, therefore, of CBT is to identify these negative thought patterns. There are many ways people can become entrapped in cognitive distortions, but a few include:
- Emotional reasoning means people assume that what they are feeling correlates with reality. For example, “I feel lonely. I must be a bad friend.”
- Blaming means people either blame others for their own responses or may blame themselves for other people’s actions. Either way, the focus is upon finding fault.
- Polarized or “black and white” thinking means there is no middle ground or grey area. Life is perfect or awful.
- Catastrophizing means people anticipate disaster—often interpreting any little sign a potentially harmful.
- Filtering means people filter out any positive realities and only see the negative.
- Control fallacy may mean a person feel victimized by luck or fate. Or it may mean they are consumed by taking responsibility for people and circumstances outside of their control such as when children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce.
- Fallacy of fairness means people evaluate life through their own standard of fairness, often comparing their lives to others.
- Overgeneralization means people take conclusions from one experience and apply them elsewhere that may have no logical connection.
How Might Cognitive Behavioral Therapy at Thriveworks Manassas Help?
After a client and therapist have identified the particular type of cognitive distortions with which a client wrestles, then the goal is to replace the negative, untruth thoughts with positive, true thinking. In particular, a therapist and client may …
- Discern the difference between emotions and thoughts.
- Cultivate awareness of how thoughts and feelings influence each other and influence actions.
- Discover how some thoughts feel automatic and seem to affect emotions and actions without intentional effort.
- Evaluate these thoughts and feelings from a more distant and critical perspective.
- Practice skills that allow people to notice what they are thinking, interrupt distorted thoughts, and correct them before they lead to actions.
To accomplish these goals, clients may do homework and exercises while they are in cognitive behavior therapy. One example of such an exercise is the three-column technique. Clients make three columns on a piece of paper. On the far left column, they will write how they are feeling. For example, they may have been late for work one day this week, and they feel like a failure. In the middle column, they will identify the particular type of cognitive distortion this thought pattern is: polarized thinking. On the far right column, they will write a healthier, more truthful response: “I made one mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. I can acknowledge being late and offer to make up the time another day.” With time and practice, reframing cognitive distortions will become more natural.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Counseling in Prince William at Thriveworks Manassas
Think for a moment about a specific challenge in your own life. What is it? The beauty of CBT is that it is an effective treatment for a variety of difficulties people face, including…
- Mood swings
- Anger management
- General health issues
- Self-destructive habits
- Child and adolescent issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Relationship issues
If you are ready to try cognitive behavior therapy, Thriveworks Manassas in Prince William is ready to help. When you contact our office, you may be meeting with your counselor within 24 hours. We offer evening and weekend appointments, but we do not keep a waitlist. We also work with most insurance companies.
Let’s make a positive change. Contact Thriveworks Manassas today.