Cognitive Distortions

Catastrophizing: You tell yourself that the very worst is happening or is going to happen.

Overestimating Probabilities/ Underestimating Coping Response: You overestimate difficulty or danger while underestimating your ability to cope with the situation.

All-or-Nothing (Black-and-White) Thinking: You view a situation in extremes rather than on a continuum.

Over-generalizing: You generalize from one situation to the next, believing that future experiences will be similar or identical to past experiences.

Self-Confirmatory Bias: You find “evidence” that helps you justify or maintain your belief system.

Emotional Reasoning: You think something must be true simply because it “feels” true.

Overvaluing Thoughts:  You ascribe credibility and meaning to senseless or random thoughts.

Overvaluing Sensations: You misinterpret bodily sensations as being exaggerated, life-threatening or dangerous.

Worrying as Superstitious Thinking: Continuing to worry helps you feel that you will not be caught off-guard. It also feels like constant worrying could ward off the dreaded situation.

Foreclosure: You focus on the possible ways that a situation might end, because it feels too hard to be in a state of uncertainty.

Mind Reading: You guess what others are thinking, and refrain from checking to see whether your impressions are correct.

Negative Review: You replay a performance, conversation or interaction after the moment has passed, focusing on your perceived shortcomings and wishing you had done something different.

Should Statements: You think in terms of how you, others, or the world “should” be. This type of thinking usually accompanies perfectionism and/or a rigid style of thinking.

Discounting the Positive:  You minimize or discount any positive feedback or perspective while maintaining a familiar, negative outlook.

Beck’s Negative Triad: You have a negative view of the self; negative view of the world; and negative view of the future.

Note to reader: This list is a compilation of some commonly used terms that have been originated, modified and/or re-stated by many cognitive-behavioral therapists. Dr. Stone therefore does not claim authorship to these terms.

About Heather Stone

Heather Stone, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist, is located in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. As an anxiety disorders specialist and subject matter expert, Dr. Stone provides Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, counseling, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of anxiety, worry, stress, panic, agoraphobia, postpartum depression and anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
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