Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was developed by Aaron T. Beck in the 1960s. CBT intervenes at the level of cognitions, or thoughts, to help people develop more realistic ways of thinking. CBT seeks to correct what are commonly referred to as cognitive distortions. There are many different types of cognitive distortions; for example, catastrophizing or thinking the worst case scenario. Oftentimes, CBT therapists will have clients keep a thought record to help them catch, check, and change their cognitive distortions, such as the one you can find here. There are also many apps now available such as MoodKit, Mood Tools, and Moodnotes.
I am not a big fan of traditional CBT and I will tell you why. First of all, it can be very dismissive or invalidating as though "it is all in your head." More importantly, it is not so easy to just change your thoughts! In fact, there is research that shows that trying to stop or control your thinking is not only ineffective but can actually cause a kind of rebound effect (Abramowitx, Tolin, & Street, 2001; Campbell-Sills, Barlow, Brown, & Hofmn, 2006; Wenzlaff & Wegner, 2000). I like to tell my clients that if we could all just change our thinking or make difficult thoughts go away, I wouldn’t have a job and it’s true! So what is the alternative? Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)! Don't know what ACT is? Learn more about it in this post!
Please note that the information in this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for psychological or medical care. If you are looking for professional help, visit my resources page for guidance on how to find a therapist. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest ER.
Abramowitx, J.S., Tolin, D.F., & Street, G.P. "Paradoxical Effects of Thought Suppression: A Meta-Analysis of Controlled Studies." Clinical Psychology Review 21 (2001): 683-703. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-7358(00)00057-X.
Campbell-Sills, L.D., Barlow, D.H., Brown, T.A., & Hofmn, S.G. "Effects of Suppression and Acceptance on Emotional Responses of Individuals with anxiety and Mood Disorders." Behaviors Research and Therapy 44, no. 9 (2006): 1251-1263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2005.10.001.
Wenzlaff, R.M., and Wegner, D.M. "Thought Suppression." Annual Review of Psychology 51 (2000): 59-91. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.51.1.59.