As the first step in working with cognitive distortions is increasing awareness of the biased patterns of thinking, the second goes into “cognitive restructuring”. Here, the therapist will guide the individual to beginning to develop alternatives to the distorted thoughts, and thus, “replace” the harmful thoughts. Such alternatives will be facts or reminders that are less distorted and more reasonable, or that are more positive or encouraging (while still avoiding distortion). In the previous post, the example thought was, “People think I’m clumsy”. A potential alternative to this distorted thought may be, “Sometimes, I make mistakes and it’s likely that other people don’t mind that much”. The clinician will invite the individual to practice reminding themselves of the alternative thought whenever they notice that the distorted thought arises. Creating lasting change in our thinking is something that requires time and effort. CBT is not a magical technique to replace thoughts immediately! However, with practice and patience, and often compassionate encouragement on the part of the therapist, we gradually see a shift in our distorted thinking, and likewise, a shift in our emotions. For more on cognitive restructuring, check out this article from MindTools.