Cognitive Distortions


One of the things I see most counseling clients struggle with is cognitive distortions. Whether engaged in individual counseling, marriage counseling, or addiction counseling, I frequently hear clients verbalize distortional thoughts, core beliefs, and/or thinking errors. It is actually very common; nonetheless, it is an unhealthy way of thinking or believing. One big problem with cognitive distortions is that the individual develops beliefs based on the untruths they tell themselves. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps clients become more aware of and intentional in their own thought process.

At Rocky Mountain Neurotherapy and Counseling, we believe in “renewing our minds” and helping our clients do the same. There are several different cognitive distortions and I will address a few of them in this post. I have found most individuals struggle with the majority of the cognitive distortions, but there are a few that are used with greater frequency (depending on the individual). There does not seem to be a pattern of which distortion a person will struggle with, but as I wrote, most people struggle most with just a few.

The first distortional thought that I see many clients struggle with is Mind Reading. Mind Reading is when the individual assumes they know what others are thinking. For example, during marriage counseling, I often hear a spouse say they know what the other spouse would say if something specific happened. Even if the spouse has an educated guess about how their significant other will react, this is still a form of mind reading. Mind reading damages communication because when I believe I know what you are thinking, I do not need to have a conversation. Furthermore, when humans make assumptions, they tend to think the worst- not the best. Therefore, my mind reading catastrophizes the situation and I tend to avoid or become argumentative without it being necessary.

Mind reading can play out in other ways, as well. Many clients fail to ask for or get their needs met simply because they are afraid to ask. The reason they fear asking for their needs to be met is that they do not want to be a burden. Well, it takes a level of mind reading to determine you are being a burden in the first place. Do not mind read; instead be in the moment-each moment- and relationships become more fulfilling and joyful.

The other distortion I’ll mention in this post is Fortune Telling. Fortune Telling is different from mind reading in that fortune telling does not predict what others are thinking, but predicts future events or happenings. The fortuneteller determines a negative outcome before it happens and, usually without any evidence to suggest, their fortune telling is accurate. I once counseled a client who was interested in an administrative position but said they decided to not apply for the position. I inquired why they had made that decision and they stated it was due to not being able to type fast enough. I asked how fast they could type and the client had no idea; they stated they had not been tested to know how fast they typed. I explored further and asked how fast they would have to type to get the job and the client stated the wanted ad did not specify. Fortune telling…
Whether a client is seeking individual counseling, marriage counseling, or addiction counseling, it is important to address cognitive distortions. From our office, here in Loveland, CO, we often help clients discover the distortional thinking they struggle with. If you struggle with distortional thinking, you’re not alone! Most people have this struggle. However, you do not need to stay stuck there; neuroplasticity tells us the brain can change. We will equip you to make those changes that lead to thinking based on reality- not distortions.

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Rocky Mountain Neurotherapy

Rocky Mountain Neurotherapy & Counseling is located in Loveland, Colorado.  We specialize in counseling, LENS treatments & helping you feel like yourself again.  We hope you enjoyed our blog post above and welcome you to reach out with any questions or to see how we can help you.

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