As you have faced challenges, have you ever told yourself something along the lines of…. “I feel scared. I can’t do this.” Or possibly something like… “I made a mistake on a report for work. I’m a terrible employee.” You probably have. Everyone struggles with negative thoughts like these. They are so common that they even have a name: cognitive distortions. These are untrue, negative thought patterns that can lead to unhelpful, negative actions. Cognitive distortions can exacerbate an already difficulty situation, or they can even create problems that did not previously exist. But many people are learning how to identify these negative thoughts and change their mindset. Doing so is, of course, easier said than done, but help is available. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a proven psychological intervention that helps people gain more control over their thoughts, emotions, 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 may enable people to do just what author Stephen Covey describes—choosing, responding, and changing. Change usually begins within, and that is where CBT focuses. Many people desire to make adjustments in their lives, but they are unsure of how to do so. CBT offers the roadmap toward positive change. Many people have…
- Discovered that they have significant control over what they think, feel, and do.
- Developed a mutual relationship with their counselor. The counselor is the expert on CBT, but clients know themselves. Working together can mean substantial progress.
- Focused upon a particular challenge in their lives and set up a strategy to tackle the difficulty.
- Learned cognitive and emotional skills that they use for many years after CBT
The counselors and psychologists at Thriveworks Newport News provides cognitive behavioral therapy for a variety of challenges that clients face. Our therapists and counselors have seen meaningful change take place within their client’s lives through first changing their own negative thought patterns.
Untrue Thoughts and Cognitive Distortions
Thoughts affect feelings; feelings affect thoughts. They both influence actions. Emotions, thoughts, and actions are separate but intertwined. This is why untrue thoughts can cause so much harm: they escalate to actions. The first step to undercut these cognitive distortions is to identify them. There are infinite ways that people can distort reality, but a few are more common than others. Typical cognitive distortions include:
- Overgeneralization takes one experience, draws a principle, and applies that principle universally. For example, when it rains on people’s birthday one year, and they say, “it always rains on my birthday.”
- Emotional reasoning draws a direct parallel between what people feel and reality. For example, if someone feels incompetent, then they are incompetent (even though in reality, they may be a very competent person).
- Polarized thinking embraces a black-and-white or all-or-nothing outlook. There is no grey or shades. People are good or bad. Situations are amazing or terrible. There is no in-between.
- Blaming finds fault anywhere and everywhere. At times, people may place too much responsibility upon their own shoulder. At other times, they may not accept responsibility when they should.
- Catastrophizing anticipates the worst despite evidence to the contrary. Every, small setback is a confirmation that the worst is coming.
- Control fallacy misplaces control. Either people assign control to luck, fate, a higher power, or the universe, or they try to take control for anything and everything.
- Filtering strains out anything positive, happy, or good within an experience or individual. People see the world and only see the negative.
- Fallacy of fairness means people measure themselves by comparing and contrasting themselves with others. They apply a random and often untrue standard of fairness.
Can Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help?
These distorted patterns of thinking are not fixed. People can change these outlooks and replace them with truthful, positive thoughts. Counselors who utilize CBT have many ways of helping clients change their thinking. One example is the three-column technique wherein they draw two lines on a blank piece of paper, making three columns.
Within the left-hand column, clients will write down a situation they faced. They will also write what they were thinking and feeling about the situation. For example, they may write, “My child is struggling in school. I feel like a bad parent. I think I have failed him.” In the middle column, people can write which cognitive distortion their thinking represents. In this case, it could be filtering, emotional reasoning, and blaming. In the final column, people will record a healthier, more true way of responding. People might write, “My child received one low grade, but he is working hard and succeeding elsewhere. Everyone will receive a bad grade at some point in their lives. I feel like a bad parent, but I have done my best to provide him with a healthy home life.”
Appointments for CBT at Thriveworks Newport News
Cognitive behavior therapy can be used as treatment for a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to…
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Mood swings
- Anger management
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Relationship issues
- Drug and/or alcohol addiction
- General health issues
- Self-destructive habits
- Child and adolescent issues
If you want to work with a counselor to change any cognitive distortions you may be experiencing, Thriveworks Newport News is ready to work with you. Many new clients have their first appointment within 24 hours of their call. Our office accepts most forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend sessions.
Let’s work together for positive thinking and positive actions. Call Thriveworks Newport News today to get started.