Cognitive distortions are inappropriate ideas and thoughts realized under cognitive therapy. Such thoughts bring about negative thinking, which results in negative emotions. Dealing with such distortions and negative thinking causes better mood and avoids deformities, like depression and anxiety. Cognitive restructuring is a study related to dealing with such distortions.
Development of Schemas;
A Schema (from the word Schemata), represents a mental setup, that shows a real life situation. The study of schemas show planned knowledge as a connection of mental structures which represents a world’s explanation. Schemata provides automatic thoughts which reduce the thinking required. New perceptions are organized in to schemata, resulting in effective actions without much effort. For example, we all have a spoon feeding schema and we can feed without difficult in darkness. Schemata can affect and prevent the use of acquired new information, like when original stereotypes make one to see an event that has not occurred because it is as per his schema. For example when a child slaps an adult, an onlooker may want to believe that it is the adult who slapped the child. Schemata have a relationship and many conflicting ones can be used on a similar information/data. When one schemata is activated, the related schemata is affected. The schema which is selected depends on activation, accessibility and timing.
Accessibility refers to how fast a schema comes into play. It depends on past experience and knowledge. It acts as some cognitive shortcut and common explanation is chosen for new data/information.
In Priming, a small stimululus provides necessary activation on a schema, for it to be used on future unknown information. However, it is not easy to notice other laboratory conditions.
Steps in Cognitive Therapy:
Identification of feelings and consequences; Determine the positive and negative consequences. Then come up with internal and external outcomes.
Identification of situations and stimuli causing the events’ sequence; familiar situations are also identified; this is where such unproductive thoughts are used to deal with/tackle events or occurrences. Find out how the situations are similar and different from cases that you have used constructive means of dealing with such situations.
Identification of unhealthy behaviors; behaviors that are unproductive and lead to unhealthy thinking are listed. For example, addiction, avoidance, attitude and defensiveness. These are the behaviors that cause inappropriate ideas and thoughts, leading to negative thinking. These unhealthy behaviors lead to unhappy mood and deformities, like depression and anxiety.
Identification of thoughts coming before unproductive behaviors. In psychology. Any unproductive behavior has been brought about by some unproductive thoughts. When such are identified, it is easy to understand the reason behind the inappropriate ideas and negative thinking. The unproductive thoughts could also be due to cognitive biases or awkward beliefs.
Compare the old belief system to the new belief system; Negative thoughts and ideas are compared to positive thoughts and ideas which represent your new “better” belief system. Decisions made should be, out of rational thinking and productive which is in line with your new thinking.
Development of new constructive beliefs and thoughts to be used in such or familiar situations; Stereotypes should be replaced with new beliefs and rational thinking to be applied in different situations.
Some positive/constructive strategies include;
Focusing on your own thoughts and forgetting what others do because you have no control over them.
Having in mind that man is to error and you are a human being, so mistakes are allowed.
The last step in cognitive therapy is, practicing with the new beliefs and thinking; this process is repeated till the new positive thinking and beliefs become automatic in responding to new situations.
(Richard, 2001 p.12-47).
Richard S. Scharf, (2001) Theories of Psychotherapy and Counseling Concepts and Cases, 4th
Edition. New York. Nerd Publishers.