In Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, we spend time looking at our automatic thoughts. Automatic thoughts are those quick, often evaluative thoughts that occur immediately in response to a situation. Sometimes they happen so fast, and we accept them so quickly, that we are barely aware we’re having them. For example, an automatic thought in response to stubbing your toe might be, ‘Ugh! I always get hurt.” We all have thinking patterns that we’ve learned to rely on, and sometimes, these thoughts are not fully accurate or helpful. We call these common thinking patterns “cognitive distortions,” since they can often distort reality in some way. These thought patterns reinforce negative thinking, and often influence our feelings and behaviors.
By Nicole Reiner, MHC-LP
Coordinator of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Services