Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, abbreviated CBT, is a popular form of therapeutic practice which focuses on the conscious activities of the mind to control unwanted beliefs, thoughts, behaviors, and actions. The human mind is an extremely powerful tool which can be effectively and positively used in the psychotherapeutic process. Using the power of the human mind, CBT has been proven effective not only by scientific studies, but also in the experience of hundreds of thousands of people. CBT is most effective in dealing with depression and anxiety as well as a number of other mental disorders.
The focus of CBT is on what are called “cognitive distortions,” these are errors in the way that people think about things in their lives, people, and relationships. The most common cognitive distortions are:
- Overgeneralizations: This is using one or more examples to make the false assumption that all of something is exactly like the few examples. If one didn’t know any better, and saw a few red balloons, it would be an overgeneralization to mistakenly think that all balloons are red. People often overgeneralize on the behavior of other people. For example, if one’s parents punished their children very harshly, the children might overgeneralize to assume that all parents punish their children harshly.
- All or nothing thinking: This is “black or white” thinking, making the mistake of thinking that things have to be in the extreme, that there is no middle ground, or gray areas, between black and white, speaking behaviorally: Focusing only on one’s faults, but ignoring one’s good points, focusing on self-defeating thoughts instead of being positive in one’s thinking, or always finding the negative or bad in situations, but ignoring the good. All or nothing thinking keeps one from seeing the realities in situations as the negative elements are seen to always overcome the positive.
- Filtering is beliefs or attitudes which allow some behaviors to be recognized but not others. In regard to verbal behavior, filtering is interpreting what another person says into what one expects them to think or say, not what they are actually saying. An example of this is when one person says something that might be ambiguous, but the other person, expecting negativism from the first person, assumes that what he or she said was negative, and responds to it negatively.
- Jumping to conclusions: In this behavior, the person makes assumptions about something and acts according to their mistaken conclusion about it. One example of this might be a wife whose husband is usually very punctual at coming home every night, but one night comes home late without informing his wife he would be late. Because his wife is a jealous person, she jumps to the conclusion that he was seeing another woman, and verbally attacks him as if that were true when he gets home, not giving him time to tell her that he had a flat tire and his cell phone was dead. Thus, jumping to conclusions can lead misunderstanding and conflict.
- Personalization: This is when one make the false assumption that it is them that people are talking about. For example, you are with a fiend who sees someone in the mall and says, “When people dress like that, they are usually drug addicts.” Of course, this is a mistaken generalization, but you don’t focus on that but remember one time that you dressed something like that, so you mistakenly think that your fried is really talking about you, not the person they are seeing in the mall. In personalization, one makes the mistake of thinking that statements and attitudes are directed at them when, in fact, they are not.
- Fallacies of control: These fallacies operate in two directions. Outwardly, this fallacy assumes that life is controlled by forces and factors outside the individual. For example, one might think, “It’s just my luck. I’m never lucky.” In this fallacy, luck is the outside force that one is not in control of. Inwardly, one may be mistakenly assuming that he or she exerts some kind of control over another person. For example, expressing this control fallacy, a person might think, “He just did that because he knows that’s what I wanted him to do.” In fact, he did it because that was what he wanted to do. Thus, fallacies of control mistakenly assume the power of some kind of control exists which, in fact, does not exist, is not relevant, or was not a factor.
CBT in the hands of a skilled psychologists like Dr. Cassidy F. Blair in Beverly Hills can be a useful tool in dealing with all of these types of cognitive distortions which lead one into mistaken thoughts and/or inappropriate actions or behavior. However, through the use of CBT, these negative thought patterns can be minimized and reduced significantly in their powers in motivating one’s thoughts and actions.
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