Cognitive Distortions and Thinking Errors of CBT (revisited)

Cognitive Distortions  is just another term  for “Thought Errors” or “Thinking Errors”.   A common strategy  for a client of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, for mood disorder (including depression), anxiety disorder and emotional management,  is  to:   “Catch”, and then “Correct”   Cognitive Distortions, aka  “Thinking Errors” or  ” Thought errors”,  before they trigger more intrusive thoughts, moods or actions.

Thought Errors are usually described as   thought in  symbols and verbal language, that are  irrational and self-defeating, and that lead to intrusions in ones life.  Because clients seeking Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T.)  are often hypersensitive to judgment and self-judgement , cognitive distortion maybe the preferred wordage to Errors.  The jargon  is   descriptive rather than definitive of processes,  with the purpose of overall treatment.

An common Example of   Cognitive  Distortion is:

“I’m going to the a meeting today.  I’m sure that its going to be a disaster.  What If I lose my job?  How will I pay the bills?”

This is catastrophizing.  Thinking  of the worst possible outcome of an event, (while all the time denying, ignoring or minimizing other potential  outcomes.)  Very common.. everybody catastrophizes sometimes.  However if this  thought becomes chronic , repetitive , intrusive, or if it triggers other intrusive cognitions and actions, or complicates illnesses then considering therapies is not a bad idea.

“Catching”  Cognitive Errors can be tricky:   One learns to be mindful of them  when they happen. this takes time.
From   the phenomenological perspective of Gestalt Therapy,  these strands  of  symbols and verbal language, spoken or subvocalized (thought)  are experienced with intense emotions (excitement) as they form as figures out of the   consciousness  ground  of the present moment.  A client can learn to further explore and understand hidden tenants and semantics, such as thoughts, attitudes or physiological  reactions  in the “field” when  cognitive distortions  form.  — this is generally more of a Gestalt Therapy approach, but could be applied in other Therapies.

Good Strategies for preparing for “Catch and Correct” use repetition.
working through CBT Workbooks,  Journaling , and writing / memorizing plans can be  useful.
Good plans are short, privately practiced often, and can include “walking away”, self-talk, and Breathing-Exercise.  Therapists and clients, or even other family members can create plans together,

…  previously posted:

Common Thought or Thinking Errors:

Emotional reasoning – rationalizing a fact out of feeling.

. “I feel bad, therefore I am a bad person.

  • I feel bad right now, but everyone feels bad, sad , ugly, or angry sometimes. “Feeling bad Is not a reason to judge myself as a bad person.”

Catastrophizing – concluding the worst possible outcome of a potential situation, no matter how likey the possibility.

My son is out with the car and is late. He’s been in an accident!

  • There are many possibilities why my son is late. He could be held up in traffic, which is more likely”.

Personalizing. self – judgment : Blaming one self for something that isn’t their fault.

My Son failed his exam at school. This is my fault.

  • I am responsible for myself, and can only control so many things.

Black / White Rigid Thinking – One divides everything into good and bad, right or wrong, all or nothing.

I wish I could work at that place, its the perfect dream job

  • Everyone and Every situation(including jobs) has qualities and difficulties. Thinking A place or person job or situation, will be entirely perfect or entirely dismal will lead to disappointment.

Should statements: self -judgment and top dogging oneself.

I should be doing more with my life, right now.”

  • Although its important to wish, and to hope: Saying what I should be doing is self judging, and takes me away from who I am and can lead to resentments.

Over-Labeling: Applying an adjective or a descriptive trait of someone or something and assuming it is the whole of it.

he is a conservative…. he is a Liberal…. she is an academic

  • Someone may be conservative or liberal, etc, or have some values as such. But believing that some traits make the whole of something may lead me to the wrong overall conclusions or prejudgments.

Magnifying– 1.blowing out of proportion your error, or another persons success       2 overstating a the  importance of a situation.

” I just had a fender-bender,  I’m a horrible driver and I’ll never drive again…
” i didn’t get hired job after my bad interview.  this is a sign I will NEVER get a job.

  •   Accidents happen,  bad performances happen in Interviews.  That doesn’t reflect on  All my driving or actions.

Some other Thought or “Thinking Errors”
Leaping (to conclusions) – assuming the outcomes of events without evidence or information.

Mind reading – assuming what another person is thinking or feeling, without asking.

Minimizing – 1. denying ones own success and qualities. 2 denying the consequences of an action.

Read More on Thinking errors here.

Happy cognitions ;)


About chris
I write because I'm not good at it. I share because, writing without sharing seems empty. Thus, I write and share what I think is meaningful.

One Response to Cognitive Distortions and Thinking Errors of CBT (revisited)

  1. chris says:

    Reblogged this on Pennsylvania Echoes and commented:

    -CBT perspective –– learning to spot intrusiveness in thought[cognitive] processes:

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