What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (C.B.T) ?

‘Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’ (C.B.T) is very old concept in field of psychology; it is used to treat people suffering from negative thoughts that can cause distress in life. When individuals go through stress they tend to interpret situations which have negative impact on the actions or decisions they take. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.

CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You’re shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.

Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis.

C.B.T helps you to understand your:

  • Faulty cognitions
  • Cognitive deficiencies
  • Cognitive distortions

In the secondary stage, our experts help clients to evaluate their distorted cognitions and discriminate between their unrealistic thoughts and reality. Clients are able to learn the influence their distorted cognition has on their feelings and this helps them to monitor and observe their thoughts.

The third stage is the ‘management of behavior’. The client is encouraged to log thoughts in a form of diary. This in return helps the client to reflect on their thoughts so that they distinguish and challenge their irrational beliefs.

The fourth stage helps clients to be independent of identifying their unhelpful beliefs that prove them wrong. This results in a positive behavioral change that helps clients to transition back in enjoying life while taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.

CBT has been shown to be an effective way of treating a number of different mental health conditions.

Cognitive Distortions

Many of the most popular and effective cognitive behavioral therapy techniques are applied to what psychologists call “ cognitive distortions ,” inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thought patterns or emotions (Grohol, 2016).

There are 15 main cognitive distortions that can plague even the most balanced thinkers.

1. Filtering

Filtering refers to the way a person can ignore all of the positive and good things in life to focus solely on the negative. It’s the trap of dwelling on a single   negative  aspect a situation, even when surrounded by an abundance of good things.

2. Polarized Thinking / Black-and-White Thinking

This cognitive distortion is all-or-nothing thinking, with no room for complexity or nuance—everything’s either black or white, never shades of gray. If you don’t perform perfectly in some area, then you may see yourself as a total failure instead of simply recognizing that you may be unskilled in one area.

3. Overgeneralization

Overgeneralization is taking a single incident or point in time and using it as the sole piece of evidence for a broad conclusion. For example, someone who overgeneralizes could bomb an important job interview and instead of brushing it off as one bad experience and trying again, they conclude that they are terrible at interviewing and will never get a job offer.

4. Jumping to Conclusions

Similar to overgeneralization, this distortion involves faulty reasoning in how one makes conclusions. Unlike overgeneralizing one incident, jumping to conclusions refers to the tendency to be sure of something without any evidence at all. For example, we might be convinced that someone dislikes us without having any real evidence, or we might believe that our fears will come true before we have a chance to really find out.

5. Catastrophizing / Magnifying or Minimizing

This distortion involves expecting that the worst will happen or has happened, based on an incident that is nowhere near as catastrophic as it is made out to be. For example, you may make a small mistake at work and be convinced that it will ruin the project you are working on, that your boss will be furious, and that you’ll lose your job. Alternatively, one might minimize the importance of  positive things, such as an accomplishment at work or a desirable personal characteristic.

6. Personalization

This is a distortion where an individual believes that everything they do has an impact on external events or other people, no matter how irrational that may be. A person with this distortion will feel that he or she has an exaggerated role in the bad things that happen around them. For instance, a person may believe that arriving a few minutes late to a meeting led to it being derailed and that everything would have been fine if they were on time.

7. Control Fallacies

This distortion involves feeling like everything that happens to you is either a result of purely external forces or entirely due to your own actions. Sometimes what happens to us is due to forces we can’t control, and sometimes what it’s due to our own actions, but the distortion is assuming that it is always one or the other. We might assume that difficult coworkers are to blame for our own less-than-stellar work, or alternatively assume that every mistake another person makes is because of something we did.

8. Fallacy of Fairness

We are often concerned about fairness, but this concern can be taken to extremes. As we all know, life is not always fair. The person who goes through life looking for fairness in all their experiences will end up resentful and unhappy. Sometimes things will go our way, and sometimes they will not, regardless of how fair it may seem.

9. Blaming

When things don’t go our way, there are many ways we can explain or assign responsibility for the outcome. One method of assigning responsibility is blaming others for what goes wrong. Sometimes we may blame others for making us feel or act a certain way, but this is a cognitive distortion. Only you are responsible for the way you feel or act.

10. “Shoulds”

“Shoulds” refer to the implicit or explicit rules we have about how we and others should behave. When others break our rules, we are upset. When we break our own rules, we feel guilty. For example, we may have an unofficial rule that customer service representatives should always be accommodating to the customer. When we interact with a customer service representative that is not immediately accommodating, we might get angry. If we have an implicit rule that we are irresponsible if we spend money on unnecessary things, we may feel exceedingly guilty when we spend even a small amount of money on something we don’t need.

11. Emotional Reasoning

This distortion involves thinking that if we feel a certain way, it must be true. For example, if we  feel  unattractive or uninteresting in the current moment, we think we  are  unattractive or uninteresting. This cognitive distortion boils down to:

“I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

Clearly, our emotions are not always indicative of the objective truth, but it can be difficult to look past how we feel.

12. Fallacy of Change

The fallacy of change lies in expecting other people to change as it suits us. This ties into the feeling that our  happiness  depends on other people, and their unwillingness or inability to change, even if we demand it, keeps us from being happy. This is a damaging way to think because no one is responsible for our own happiness except ourselves.

13. Global Labeling / Mislabeling

This cognitive distortion is an extreme form of generalizing, in which we generalize one or two instances or qualities into a global judgment. For example, if we fail at a specific task, we may conclude that we are a total failure in not only that area but all areas. Alternatively, when a stranger says something a bit rude, we may conclude that he or she is an unfriendly person in general. Mislabeling is specific to using exaggerated and emotionally loaded language, such as saying a woman has abandoned her children when she leaves her children with a babysitter to enjoy a night out.

14. Always Being Right

While we all enjoy being right, this distortion makes us think we must be right, that being wrong is unacceptable. We may believe that being right is more important than the feelings of others, being able to admit when we’ve made a mistake or being fair and objective.

15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

This distortion involves expecting that any sacrifice or self-denial will pay off. We may consider this karma, and expect that karma will always immediately reward us for our good deeds. This results in feelings of bitterness when we do not receive our reward (Grohol, 2016).

Many tools and techniques found in cognitive behavioral therapy are intended to address or reverse these cognitive distortions.

In addition to depression or anxiety disorders, CBT can also help people with:

  • Low Self Confidence and Self-Esteem
  • Relationship Problems (Marriage, Separation, Divorce etc)
  • Stress
  • Examination Phobia
  • Low motivation
  • Phobia’s of any kind
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Social Anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Phobias
  • Eating disorders – such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Sleep problems – such as insomnia
  • Problems related to alcohol misuse

Note: Patients diagnosed with mental health illnesses such as: Schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, personality disorder or are on anti-psychotic drugs; initially you need to take advice from professional health experts like psychiatrists.