Cognitions - the way we think

1) Schemas / Core beliefs

•Beck distinguished 3 levels of cognition that cause and maintain psychopathology

•Schemas: Internal models of the self and the world developed over the course of experiences beginning in early life

•Schemas may lie dormant until they are activated by conditions similar to those under which they originally developed .


2) Maladaptive Assumptions

•Must / Shouldsand If-then statements

•“If I don’t pass the exam, it means that I’m a failure”

•“If I’m depressed now, then I will always be depressed”

•“People will think less of me, if I am depressed”


3) Automatic Thoughts (ATs)

•Negative view of the self (e.g., I’m unlovable, ineffective)

•Negative view of the future (e.g., nothing will work out)

•Negative view of the world (e.g., world is hostile)

•ATsare not given the same consideration as other thoughts but rather they are assumed to be true



Situation: A colleague brushes past me in the cafeteria without saying “hello”.


Schema:                                "I am unlovable."

Assumption:              "I need her approval to feel worthwhile."

Automatic Thought:             "She doesn’t like me"


Emotions:                       sad, depressed, hopeless




            Unhealthy Self-Talk

B   Black and White Thinking

A    Awfulizing

D   Discounting the Positives

M   Maximizing the Negatives

O   Overgeneralization

O   Overestimating likelihood of Negative Outcome

D   Demanding

S   Self-Blame


Solihull CBT offers therapy for all of Birmingham and the West Midlands


Six ethics of life

Before you pray - Believe
Before you speak - Listen
Before you spend - Earn
Before you write - Think
Before you quit - Try &
Before you die - live !!



Solihull CBT offers therapy for all of Birmingham and the West Midlands



The Unexpected Antidote to Procrastination




A recent early morning hike in Malibu, California, led me to a beach, where I sat on a rock and watched surfers. I marveled at these courageous men and women who woke before dawn, endured freezing water, paddled through barreling waves, and even risked shark attacks, all for the sake of, maybe, catching an epic ride. 


After about 15 minutes, it was easy to tell the surfers apart by their style of surfing, their handling of the board, their skill, and their playfulness. 



What really struck me though, was what they had in common. No matter how good, how experienced, how graceful they were on the wave, every surfer ended their ride in precisely the same way: By falling.Some had fun with their fall, while others tried desperately to avoid it. And not all falls were failures — some fell into the water only when their wave fizzled and their ride ended.But here's what I found most interesting: The only difference between a failure and a fizzle was the element of surprise. In all cases, the surfer ends up in the water. There's no other possible way to wrap up a ride.



That got me thinking: What if we all lived life like a surfer on a wave?



The answer that kept coming to me was that we would take more risks.


That difficult conversation with your boss (or employee, or colleague, or partner, or spouse) that you've been avoiding? You'd initiate it.That proposal (or article, or book, or email) you've been putting off? You'd start it.That new business (or product, or sales strategy, or investment) you've been overanalyzing? You'd follow through.And when you fell — because if you take risks, you will fall — you'd get back on the board and paddle back into the surf. That's what every single one of the surfers did.



So why don't we live life that way? Why don't we accept falling — even if it's a failure — as part of the ride?



Because we're afraid of feeling.



Think about it: In all those situations, our greatest fear is that we will feel something unpleasant.



What if you have that scary conversation you've been avoiding and it ends the relationship? It would hurt.What if you follow through on the business idea and lose money? It would feel terrible.What if you submitted the proposal and you were rejected? It would feel awful.


Here's the thing: More often than not, our fear doesn't help us avoid the feelings; it simply subjects us to them for an agonizingly long time. We feel the suffering of procrastination, or the frustration of a stuck relationship. I know partnerships that drag along painfully for years because no one is willing to speak about the elephant in the room. Taking risks, and falling, is not something to avoid. It's something to cultivate. But how?




Which you get by taking risks, feeling whatever you end up feeling, recognizing that it didn't kill you, and then getting on the board and paddling back into the surf.Have that difficult conversation. Listen without defensiveness when your colleague criticizes you. Name the elephant in the room. Get rejected.And feel it all. Feel the anticipation of the risk. Feel the pre-risk cringe. Then, during the risk, and after, take a deep breath and feel that too.You'll become familiar with those feelings and, believe it or not, you'll start to enjoy them. Even the ones you think of as unpleasant. Because feeling is what tells you you're alive.You know that sensation you get after you've done or said something weird or awkward? How you turn around and kind of wince in embarrassment?


Next time that happens, take a moment to really feel it.When you do, you'll realize it's not so bad. Maybe you'll admit, "I don't know why I just said that," and apologize. Then maybe you'll both laugh it off. Or maybe you'll get into that conversation you've been avoiding for years but you know you need to have.Soon, you won't fear feeling. You'll pursue it like those courageous early morning surfers. You'll wake up before dawn and dive into those scary conversations and difficult proposals.


You'll take the risks that once scared you. And you'll fall; sometimes you'll even fail.Then you'll get up and do it again.




Solihull CBT offers therapy for all of Birmingham and the West Midlands







Mindfulness is a mental state of awareness. To experience with openess, receptiveness and interest.


You are aware of your thoughts and emotions but you just accept them; you notice them.


Solihull CBT offers Mindfulness training, together with Acceptance theory.


For now try this ...


Next time you eat something, take the opportunity to savor it, to fully taste it. Let your thoughts come and go and just focus on the sensations in your mouth.

Most of the time we eat we are scarcely aware of what we are doing.

Eat it slowly, chew it. Notice the texture; bitter or sweet; smell?


Why do this? 


To connect with the World. You have probably tried "not to think" bad thoughts; not to feel anxious or down. Did it work? Perhaps for a short time but it nearly always comes back. Mindfulness teaches you to accept these thoughts and feelings - to say "hello" to them but to carry on noticing the world around you (or the exercise)


It is not something you can just do - you will need to learn it and put in lots of practice.


A CD is a great introduction; like the one that comes with "The Mindful way through depression" book. The "Happiness Trap" by Russ Harris is also an excellent introduction to Acceptance theory.


In just 6 sessions of Mindfulness training from Solihull CBT you will be able to understand and succesfully implement Mindfulness in your every life that will have a positive effect on your wellbeing (as long as you put in the practice as well :-) )



Solihull CBT offers therapy for all of Birmingham and the West Midlands



Thinking Errors





Although some negative automatic thoughts are true, many are either untrue or have just a grain of truth. Here are a few common errors. 


  1. All-or-nothing thinking (also called black-and-white, polarized, or dichotomous thinking): You view a situation in only two categories instead of on a continuum. Example: "If I'm not a total success, I'm a failure." 
  2. Catastrophizing (also called fortune telling): You predict the future negatively without considering other, more likely outcomes. Example: "I'll be so upset I won't be able to function at all." 
  3. Disqualifying or discounting the positive: You unreasonably tell yourself that positive experiences, deeds, or qualities do not count. Example: "I did that project well, but that doesn't mean I'm competent; I just got lucky." 
  4. Emotional reasoning: You think something must be true because you "feel" (actually believe) it so strongly, ignoring or discounting evidence to the contrary. Example: "I know I do a lot of things well at work, but I still feel as if I'm a failure." 
  5. Labeling: You put a fixed, global label on yourself or others without considering that the evidence might more reasonably lead to a less disastrous conclusion. Examples: "I'm a loser. He's no good." 
  6. Magnification/minimization: When you evaluate yourself, another person, or a situation, you unreasonably magnify the negative and/or minimize the positive. Examples: "Getting a mediocre evaluation proves how inadequate I am. Getting high marks doesn't mean I'm smart." 
  7. Mental filter (also called selective abstraction): You pay undue attention to one negative detail instead of seeing the whole picture. Example: "Because I got one low rating on my evaluation [which also contained several high ratings] it means I'm doing a lousy job." 
  8. Mind reading: You believe you know what others’ motivations are, or what they are thinking, failing to consider other, more likely possibilities. Example: "He's thinking that I don't know the first thing about this project." 
  9. Overgeneralization (also called global thinking): You make a sweeping negative conclusion that goes far beyond the current situation. Example: "[Because I felt uncomfortable at the meeting] I don't have what it takes to make friends." 
  10. Personalization: You believe others are behaving negatively because of you, without considering more plausible explanations for their behavior. Example: "The repairman was curt to me because I did something wrong." 
  11. "Should" and "must” statements (also called imperatives): You have a precise, fixed idea of how you or others should behave and you overestimate how bad it is that these expectations are not met. Example: "It's terrible that I made a mistake. That mistake was disastrous. I should never make a mistake." 
  12. Tunnel vision: You only see the negative aspects of a situation. Example: "My son's teacher can't do anything right. He's critical and insensitive and lousy at teaching." 


Solihull CBT offers therapy for all of Birmingham and the West Midlands