Cognitive Therapy Basic Assumption
We are NOT disturbed by things or events, but by our PERCEPTIONS of these events.

Our THOUGHTS and attitudes create our feelings; NOT external events

ABC Theory of Emotion (Ellis)

A = Activating event

B = Beliefs about the event

C = Emotional Consequences

Cognitive Distortions: Typical Mistakes in Thinking
1. Catastrophizing
fortune-telling: predicting the future negatively without considering other, more likely outcomes
2. Discounting the positive
don’t count positive experiences or qualities
3. Mind reading
believe you know what others are thinking
4. Overgeneralization
make sweeping negative conclusions that go beyond the current situation
5. “Should” and “must” statements
imperatives; fixed ideas about how you or others should behave

First Step: Make Chart
1. Notice when you experience an
EXTREME emotional reaction

2. WRITE DOWN the emotion and the
situation. (C and A)

3. Ask “What was going through my mind?”

Identify the distortion in your thought.
Ask: “Is this really true?” (valid)
or “Is this belief useful?” (usefulness)

Write a new, more adaptive and realistic
belief to replace dysfunctional one

Overview: The ABC’s

A = Activating event

B = Beliefs about the event

C = Emotional consequences

D = Dispute (the belief/thought)

E = Effect of dispute

Does it REALLY work??
YES! Demonstrated efficacy for depression, anxiety, anger management…

Not saying that your THOUGHTS cause you to be depressed… but they maintain negative moods.
Cognitive and behavioral therapies lead to changes in physiology
Lower rates of relapse than medication only