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Reframing 10 Cognitive Distortions Using CBT

What Are Cognitive Distortions?

Think of a room full of mirrors, all with different levels of distorted surfaces that refract and reflect the light, and yourself, in warped ways. Some may be subtle, some may be exaggerated, and some reflections may, in fact, be the real you. The “fun house of mirrors” is a great way to think about what cognitive distortions are: distortions of how we react to internal and external stimuli.

When the mind plays tricks on us through false thinking patterns based on an irrational belief system, it is cognitive distortion. These thoughts are usually inaccurate and negatively biased.

Cognitive distortions are a habitual way of thinking, leading to negative feelings and behaviors such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, and addiction, but how did these unwanted distortions develop?

Origins of Cognitive Distortions

When adverse events occur in our lives, the way we react to them internally may fluctuate depending on how we perceive the world around us. Often, it’s easy to react instantly and negatively to a perceived threat, where our cognitive response may not be reflective of the truth of what’s in front of us. This way of thinking stems from past and present traumas, from any insecurities we may have about ourselves or others, and/or from a variety of mental health reasons in our individual cognitive functioning.

The following ten cognitive distortions can be alleviated using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques.

  • Polarized Thinking (All or Nothing) – This way of thinking is extreme and can lead to setbacks and relapses quite easily.
    • An example would be if someone were trying to stop overeating and realized they had already gone over their daily limit, thinking the damage had already been done, then continued to binge.
    • This form of thinking is done in absolute terms, as either black or white but nothing in-between.

Young woman looking doubtful

  • Personalization and Blame – This is one of the ten cognitive distortions that significantly benefit from CBT as it causes the blaming of either yourself or someone else entirely for a given situation even though there were other mitigating factors present that were out of your control.
    • An example would be if a parent was not in their child’s life growing up and that child grew up blaming themselves for something out of their control.
    • This form of thinking is based on pinpointing the reason something happened based on one particular person instead of realizing there were possibly many reasons involved.
  • Magnification (or minimizing) – Another cognitive distortion that can benefit from a list of CBT techniques is taking something negative and magnifying it while bringing something positive and minimizing that resulting in feelings of worthlessness.
    • An example would be if a person who had a fear of speaking in public gave a speech and did a great job except for a small blunder at the beginning which became the main focus instead of embracing the overall positive outcome.
    • This type of cognitive distortion can be helped through CBT by changing the focus from the negative back to the positive.
  • Overgeneralization – This distortion occurs when a person applies one negative experience to all of the same types of experiences, even those in the future.
    • An example would be if someone spelled a word wrong and then began thinking they are never good at spelling.
    • This form of thinking can be distressing but easily managed through CBT techniques.
  • Jumping to Conclusions – Jumping to conclusions is easy, especially if we think we know the situation’s outcome. A person thinks someone will react in a certain way or predict how an event will unfold, known as mind-reading or fortune-telling.
  • Labeling – Labeling is one of the ten cognitive distortions quickly helped with CBT as it involves making a judgment about oneself or someone else. Instead, seeing the behavior as a separate entity rather than defining who that person is.
  • Emotional Reasoning – Emotional reasoning is not based on reality but rather on the person’s feelings about a given situation.
    • An example would be someone feeling a lack of self worth and trying to find meaning in destructive patterns such as alcoholism or drug use.
    • This form of thinking is based on a judgment of oneself based on emotions instead of facts.
  • Mental Filtering – Mental filtering is a cognitive distortion that occurs when a person filters out positive thoughts and positive feedback, automatically replacing them with negative thoughts. This is common in those contending with depression and can lead to panic attacks, but CBT is a reliable treatment for alleviating this distorted thinking pattern.
  • Should Statements – An incredibly self-defeating way of thinking, using “should statements” emphasizes unattainable standards.
  • Disqualifying the Positive – When a person focuses only on the negative things happening while discounting all the positives, that person can experience debilitating low self-esteem and depression.

How CBT Works to Overcome the Ten Cognitive Distortions

Person with a half smile staring at the camera

One of the best forms of treatment for the ten cognitive distortions is (CBT), which provides positive ways to think about the things that are causing the inner turmoil.

CBT is based on thoughts creating feelings which then produce our behaviors or actions in response to those emotions. By simply changing the initial thought, we can ultimately shift the outcome of our behavior.

The list of CBT techniques is long and includes imagery-based exposure, relaxed breathing, exposure and response prevention, and cognitive restructuring.

Cognitive restructuring, also known as cognitive reframing, modifies or replaces the cognitive distortion’s negative and irrational thoughts.

  • Step 1: Identify and Be Aware – Being able to identify and be aware of the negative thought is vital to stop and change it before it can affect you.
  • Step 2: Question the Thoughts – Ask yourself important questions.
    • Is the thought genuinely realistic, and is it based on fact or feeling alone?
    • What is the evidence for this thought, and could there be any misinterpretations of this thought?
    • Are there facts to support this thought, or does it come from an unsubstantiated place in my subconscious mind?
  • Step 3: Evaluate the True Origin of Thought – Learning more about what is hindering your mental wellbeing by pinpointing the origin is the key to unlocking the chains that bind your happiness.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer integrative CBT to overcome the ten cognitive distortions. By implementing CBT with other forms of therapy such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy, we work with you to transform and reframe your thoughts in a new, positive light..

Let go of the negative thoughts and take charge of the way you think. Conqueror unwanted beliefs and start feeling happier and healthier. Take that first step to overcome whatever cognitive distortion is holding you back from living the life you deserve, and contact us today!

An open journal with the written text “thought catalog”

How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Experts have referred to CBT as the gold standard of psychotherapy. CBT is a psychological intervention with proactive treatment. Essentially, cognitive behavioral therapy works by training practitioners to challenge negative thoughts with positive truths, Cognitive behavioral therapy methods revolve around forming habits to take ownership of feelings and beliefs through behaviors of positive reinforcement.

How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy works through a close relationship between you and your therapist, where you will be actively applying psychoanalytic principles and customized methods in order to facilitate progressively healthier thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

In contrast to other methods of psychoanalytic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes using the present to work towards the future as opposed to prioritizing an understanding of the past to understand the present.

Put simply, CBT works through action towards forward motion to improve your quality of life.

Understanding how cognitive behavioral therapy works involves recognizing what goes into a typical experience with this psychological treatment. Keep reading to explore the therapeutic methods and the steps of CBT!

What are some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Methods?

We’ve found that the best application for CBT methods are integrative rather than an isolated approach. Our effective, blended application of CBT also draws from modalities like neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we also consider the cognitive psychology approach. This involves working with our mental health professional, who studies human thought processes, investigating her patient’s cognition based on scientific evidence. After cognitive psychology sessions, therapists then recommend specific activities and exercises tailored to counter the negative thought processes and replace them with positive solutions.

In general, no matter the specific psychoanalytic applications employed, how cognitive behavioral therapy works hinges on how the counselor and her client work together to reach the individual’s goals. These efforts to shift thinking and behavioral patterns may include working on facing rather than avoiding fears, practical strategies to calm the mind and relax the body, and developing confidence in one’s own abilities or recognizing sources of satisfaction in one’s own life.

CBT also leverages the power of role-playing to prepare for using problem-solving skills for difficult situations and in forming the habit to challenge negative thoughts with positive truths. These methods center on learning to recognize and then reevaluate problematic, distorted thought habits.

Role-playing can also help those using CBT to gain a better understanding of others’ behaviors and motivations, as opposed to continuing with their own often erroneous preconceptions about those around them.

Obviously, not all these methods are useful in every circumstance. Cognitive behavorial therapy methods may vary, but all CBT remains aimed at changing perceptions to positively affect behavior and mood. What’s important is finding a therapist who strives to create 100% trailer-made treatment plans that align with your mental and behavioral health goals.

A things to do homework board saying “own today”

What are the steps of CBT?

While the steps of CBT range significantly depending on individual circumstance and treatment goals, most of the time, Cognitive behavioral therapy follows a general pattern of one-on-one therapy sessions paired with relevant assignments. That “homework” will then be addressed in follow-up during the next therapy session.

These “homework” assignments are critical: rather than relying only on a therapist, medicine, or other similar external sources of therapy, CBT practitioners learn to use strategies to provide therapy to themselves. How cognitive therapy works depends largely on you, the client, being an active participant in your therapeutic journey.

Steps of CBT mainly include:

  • One-on-one therapy sessions
  • Frequent feedback
  • Homework assignments. These assignments usually involve keeping some kind of a regular written record that is focused on cognitive behavior, which may range from a gratitude journal to lists of negative beliefs to challenge with positive truths.

During this process, those following the steps of CBT form new, empowering habits to challenge or restate negative or inaccurate thoughts in order to re-shape their problem-solving abilities in a positive light. In recognizing how to rethink and reevaluate their perception of the world, following the steps of CBT can instill a more balanced, less reactive awareness of the world both within and outside of the mind. The goal is to take ownership of feelings and thoughts to positively affect perception and behavior.

How do I know if CBT is a good fit for me?

Now that you understand how cognitive behavioral therapy works, you may be wondering if this treatment would be a good fit for you. CBT is a valuable asset for anyone looking to help navigate life, whether it’s how to process stress more effectively or working through a deeper concern.

If you think CBT sounds like it could help you, we at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy are here for you. With Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, you’ll find up-to-date practices and therapy methods that you can personalize to your own needs and experiences through our professional custom-made treatment programs created individually by our lead practitioner. Find your clearer path by contacting us today.

Journal with coffee cup and candle

Support Your Trauma Therapy with Journaling & Prompts

Trauma journaling is a scientifically effective way to begin to address underlying issues that may be causing stress and anxiety in everyday life. Unlike keeping a regular diary, trauma journaling takes a more focussed approach and gives you the tools to begin to reflect and learn along your healing journey. Ultimately the work you do in your journal is a very personal experience, so you may consider trauma therapy journal prompts useful as a starting point, and you may find your approach evolves over time with practice.

There are plenty of anecdotal mental health benefits to expressive and creative writing. Those that journal daily can find it provides a structured no-judgment zone to reflect and refer back to in the future. It can be a low impact, low-commitment addition to a good mental wellness routine when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.

If elements of your life are starting to feel out of control, this kind of proactive approach can help you begin healing and get a clear picture of what your triggers might be. It’s not a replacement for therapy but it can provide valuable insights whilst you decide when and how to find a trauma therapist to address issues with the guided help of a professional.

Find a Routine That Works For You

Find a quiet place, and pick a time you know you can work undisturbed. It can take around 21 days to make a healthy habit and 90 days to fix it into your routine, but don’t feel you have to journal every day. Dealing with complex issues from the past can be triggering so it’s important to take breaks and step away when it becomes overwhelming.

Are you someone who gets the most done in the morning? If so, perhaps this is the best time to set aside time as you may find trauma therapy journaling prompts the best response early in the day. Before you start putting pen to paper, take a breath and pause for a moment to reflect on how your trauma has impacted your life. This will help to contextualize the work that you do and anchor it to making positive changes.

Ask Difficult Questions

It can be difficult to know where to begin with a blank page staring back at you. Don’t get intimidated! Start slowly by using some of the below trauma therapy journal prompts into your notebook or journal. Ask yourself the questions that take you outside of your comfort zone but remember to check in with how you feel and be kind.

  • What kind of life would make me feel content and fulfilled?
  • How is my trauma holding me back from experiencing the life I want to live?
  • When do I feel most powerful?
  • When did I realize I had experienced trauma?
  • What feelings do I experience when I relive the trauma?

As you begin to journal you may find that other questions will surface, so note them down and return to them when you’re ready to address them. If you feel comfortable you can use this knowledge to find a trauma therapist or hypnotherapist, where your journaling work gives you a head-start and a good sense of what you’re ready to work on.

Woman on beach takes a deep breath

Let Go of Expectations

Remember this is a resource for you and you alone. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. Try not to focus too much on getting the right words onto the page every time. It should be a creative exercise to guide you through addressing trauma. You don’t have to do this the ‘right way’ or alone, and may find others online using their trauma therapy journal prompts that could be useful to you too.

Ultimately trauma therapy journaling is just one tool you can use wherever you are on your healing journey, with other tools like therapy. It may be something you use daily, or it may be a resource you use occasionally when things become overwhelming. Remember there’s no pressure, and you can take the learnings from the exercise to keep growing and evolving on this pathway to mending emotional wounds.

Take a breath, be kind, and just begin.

Image of a young woman surrounded by hands

Understanding Trauma – Informed Counseling and Therapy

Traumatic experiences can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mind and body, so counseling for trauma is essential. Since everyone reacts differently to trauma, the outcome can vary depending on the psychological and emotional impact of the event or events.

Trauma is an emotional response to a traumatic event. Initially, a person may experience shock or denial. As time goes on, the reactions can worsen into unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, and relationship problems.

A traumatic event can include any incident that causes physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual harm. Gaining a sense of emotional and mental stability is the main goal in conquering the effects caused by the traumatic experience, but that takes time, depending on the cause of the trauma.

About the Causes of Trauma

Trauma can occur at any age and appear as a single event or a series of events.

Trauma affects us differently due to how we handle each situation, the age the events occurred, whether the cause is buried in the subconscious, and other factors. Counseling for trauma is vital in order to unearth the root causes and explore their depths in a safe, supportive environment.

In the days to weeks following a given trauma, there are signs and symptoms to look for that can lead to other issues such as acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and Symptoms

If left untreated, traumatic events can lead to other mental health issues due to trauma’s psychological and emotional damage.

Emotional and psychological symptoms can include:

  • Anger – Anger after trauma is one of the psychological effects which can be triggered due to survival instincts related to the trauma itself. This anger may manifest itself overtly but may show up in more subtle forms like increased irritability or a resistance to change.
  • Depression – The long-term psychological effects of trauma can increase the risk of developing depression, whether clinical or otherwise, with an increased likelihood of abandonment issues or other co-dependent responses.
  • Anxiety – Experiencing a traumatic event can increase someone’s fight or flight response and thus their anxiety, typically when seeing, hearing, or smelling something that reminds the individual of their trauma’s cause, whether subconsciously or consciously.

Young woman in Miami looking into the distance

Counseling for trauma can also help with physical symptoms, which may include:

  • Insomnia or nightmares – When the experience is so shocking, the mind keeps bringing the memory back to understand it better.
  • Difficulty concentrating – The stress caused by trauma can leave a person in a state of heightened vigilance and, over time, puts extreme pressure on the mind and body, making concentration more difficult.
  • Easily startled – Trauma itself startles the body and mind leaving it vulnerable and yet prepared if it were to happen again.
  • Racing heartbeat – When any trigger of the traumatic event occurs, the mind remembers and prepares the body for action by increasing the heart rate.

When trauma occurs, the mind will find coping mechanisms. Traumatic responses and the resulting ways people cope are directly connected with behavioral health issues such as the development of eating disorders and substance abuse through drugs and alcohol.

When the signs and symptoms start interfering in daily life, including day-to-day activities, school, work, and relationships, it may be time to consider trauma-informed psychotherapy.

Treatments for Trauma at Therapy

Sometimes, we need to breathe and release, but it is not easy, especially when past traumas take over. Still, with counseling for trauma administered by a trained professional, the past no longer has to control you.

There are five primary principles with trauma-informed psychotherapy, which are:

  • Safety – Ensuring that the physical and emotional needs of the patient come first in a safe environment.
  • Choice – The patient is provided options regarding their unique treatment plan.
  • Working Together – Making decisions with the patient provides a sense of power and mutual collaboration.
  • Trust – Being clear and concise along with creating healthy boundaries help build confidence and assurance.
  • Empowerment – Having the patient learn and contribute to their therapy plan helps provide inner strength and the skills needed to conquer any obstacles that may occur in the future.

Utilizing trauma-informed care is a unique type of counseling for trauma that involves the therapist focusing on three main aspects of how trauma has affected a person’s life.

  1. The realization of the magnitude and prevalence of the trauma
  2. The recognition of how the trauma affects all the individuals involved
  3. The response of the therapist by applying a specific or multiple type treatment plans

One of the best forms of treatment is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is based on our thoughts that create our feelings and, ultimately, our behaviors. If we change our thoughts, we change our behaviors, resulting in a more positive and enjoyable life.

With trauma-focused CBT, trauma-sensitive interventions are infused with CBT to provide a reduction in traumatic stress symptoms along with the skills needed to regulate behavior, thoughts, and relationships while enhancing safety, trust, and communication.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide range of counseling for trauma treatments, including CBT, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and hypnotherapy. In addition, we apply integrative treatments by combining therapies to expedite and enhance the results.

Person with hands in the air on top of a mountain

Releasing the adverse effects from past traumas can feel like you just climbed a huge mountain and finally made it to the top, which can be accomplished through trauma-informed psychotherapy.

Contact us today and overcome whatever is holding you back from living the joyous life you were meant to live! Let Miami Hypnosis and Therapy help you pull you off the path of fear and take control of your mental well-being.

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