One of the most popular and widely researched forms of therapy available today is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). While CBT focuses on both the cognitive and behavioral dimensions of an individual’s functioning, one of the main focuses of this mode of therapy is identifying ways in which one’s thinking patterns are biased or distorted. In CBT, these are called “cognitive distortions”. The therapist will support the individual to uncover these distortions, and encourage them to practice observing their thoughts, increasing mindful awareness of when the distorted thoughts arise. For example, an individual may often experience the thought, “People think I’m clumsy”. We could say that the thought falls prey to the cognitive distortion “Mindreading”, which holds that it is biased thinking to assume that we know what other people think because we cannot read their minds.
Simply becoming more aware of the various types of cognitive distortions and when they arise in our thinking is a large step towards more robust mental health. As biases in thinking are a core issue in a variety of mental health challenges—from depression and anxiety, to marriage conflict and addiction—we can all do better with a deeper awareness of cognitive distortions.
For a more in-depth list of common cognitive distortions, take a look at this article from GoodTherapy.org.