Cognitive Therapy is a well established theory created by Aaron Beck. It was originally developed to help patients overcome depression. Cognitive therapy argues that situations or events per se do not trigger our emotions, but it is our own interpretation of these events that is responsible for these emotions. Often our thoughts do not accurately reflect reality. We may be engaging in what the theory calls “cognitive distortions” which lead in turn to feelings of anxiety , depression, anger , shame, etc.
Some frequent “cognitive distortions” include:
a) Catastrophization (e.g. “My work is horrible!”)
b) Overgeneralization (e.g. “Nobody really cares about me”)
c) Jumping to conclusions (e.g. “She did not call me. She must be angry with me”)
d) Dichotomous thinking (e.g. “I am a looser”)
e) Mind reading (e.g. “My boss yawned during my presentation. He must think I am incompetent”)
f) Fortune telling (e.g. “I will never meet the right person”)
g) Emotional reasoning (e.g. “I feel unattractive. I am unattractive”)
h) Personalization (e.g. “My relationship broke up. I am not capable of having a good relationship”)
i) Should/Must thinking (e.g. “I must always be efficient and productive”)
Cognitive therapy helps patients to identify and modify these automatic thoughts (cognitive restructuring). These interventions are often combined with behavioral interventions that address maladaptive patterns of behavior.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown to be highly effective and produces significant clinical progress in a relatively short time.