Cognitive Therapy is based on three principles:
- Moods, feeling, and depression are created and maintained by our thoughts and thinking; you feel the way you think!
- When depressed, your thoughts are dominated by a pervasive negativity. Negativity characterizes depression.
- Negative thoughts and negativity are almost always (when in a depressed mood) irrational, distorted, "plain wrong."
Using Cognitive Therapy to lessen depression
Lessening depression, the initial step in Cognitive Therapy, is started by recognizing negative and disturbing thoughts. Cognitive Therapy tells us to:
- Write down the negative thought(s) under what are called "automatic thoughts."
- Next, show why this thought is illogical by determining the type of cognitive distortion (listed below) this thought represents.
- Now substitute a more rational thought in place of the negative, illogical, distorted thought.
Remaining major principles
The remaining major principles supporting Cognitive Therapy concern our
personal value systems, attitudes, and beliefs. How we feel about
approval, love, achievement, perfectionism, entitlement, omnipotence,
communication, and anger in turn affects our perceptions of our world.
List of cognitive distortions
- All-or-nothing thinking: you look at things in absolute,
- Over-generalization: you view a negative event as a never-ending pattern
- Mental filter: you dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.
- Discounting the positives: you insist that you accomplishments or
positive qualities "don't count."
- Jumping to conclusions:
- Mind-reading: you assume people are reacting negatively to you
when there's no definite evidence for this.
- Fortune-telling: you arbitrarily predict that things will turn
- Magnification or minimization: you blow things out of proportion or
you shrink their importance inappropriately.
- Emotional reasoning: you reason from how you feel. "I
feel like an idiot, so I really must be one," or "I
don't feel like doing this, so I'll put it off."
- "Should" statements: you criticize yourself or others with
"shoulds" or "shouldn'ts", "musts",
"musts," "oughts," and "have tos."
- Labeling: you identify with your shortcomings. Instead of saying
"I made a mistake," you tell yourself, "I'm a jerk,"
"a fool," or a "a loser."
- Personalization and blame: you blame yourself for something that you
weren't entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and overlook
ways that your own attitudes and behavior might contribute to a problem.
[This list is based on Feeling Good; The New Mood Therapy, by
David Burns, MD, 1980.]
Have you found errors nontrivial or marginal, factual, analytical and illogical, arithmetical, temporal, or even typographical? Please let me know; drop me email. Thanks!
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