Cognitive Therapy

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Challenge Thinking Errors

Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that much of how we feel is determined by what we think. Disorders, such as depression are believed to be the result of faulty thoughts and beliefs.

By correcting these inaccurate beliefs, the person's perception of events and emotional state improve. Research on depression has shown that people with depression often have inaccurate beliefs about themselves, their situation and the world.

Cognitive therapists work with the person to challenge thinking errors like those listed below. By pointing out alternative ways of viewing a situation, the person's view of life, and ultimately their mood will improve. Research has shown that cognitive therapy can be as effective as medication in the long-term treatment of depression.

A list of common cognitive errors and real life examples is listed below:

  1. Personalization, relating negative events to oneself when there is no basis.
  2. Dichotomous Thinking, seeing things as black and white, all or none. This is usually detected when a person can generate only two choices in a situation.
  3. Selective Abstraction, focusing only on certain aspects of a situation, usually the most negative.
  4. Magnification-Minimization, distorting the importance of particular events.

APA Reference

Herkov, M. (2008). About Cognitive Psychotherapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 17, 2012, from