top of page
  • Don Kronenberg

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - Think Rationally - Feel Good

By Don Kronenberg, MSW, LCSW

July 2014

You’re driving down the street with a friend next to you in the front seat. Suddenly, a car passes you on the left and swerves sharply in front of you, barely missing you, and takes off quickly…

Your immediate response is to slow down to avoid an accident, all the while yelling a few choice words at the driver, beeping your horn, and maybe offering up a hand gesture. Your friend next to you says calmly,

“Wow, that guy’s in a hurry! Maybe his wife is having a baby.” You look at your friend in astonishment and blurt out, “Didn’t you see what that idiot just did to me?”

What accounts for the fact that two people who just witnessed the same event respond in two completely different ways?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT would say that the reason for the difference has to do with the way that we perceive (or think about) things, which in turn influences how we feel emotionally, and subsequently, influences our actions.

Some drivers in the above scenario may become so full of rage that they chase the offending driver down, creating a much worse situation. Others may simply disregard it as a reality of busy urban life. We know that when people are distressed, their perceptions are often inaccurate, and their thoughts may be irrational or distorted.

CBT helps people identify these distorted thoughts (beliefs, ideas, perceptions, attitudes, etc.), and then helps them to think more rationally, which, in turn, makes them feel better. Many of our thoughts happen automatically (from our subconscious, influenced by past events and experiences in our lives) and are deeply in-grained in us, so it can take some time and effort to uncover them. When we do this, however, the result can be a profound change in our thoughts, feelings and actions, resulting in better control of our lives.

Cognitive Distortions

Dr. David Burns, in his book The Feeling Good Handbook, describes ten of the most common cognitive distortions that can influence negative feelings and behaviors including:

1. All or nothing (black and white) thinking

2. Over-generalizing

3. Discounting positives

4. Should statements

5. Mental filter

6. Jumping to conclusions

7. Magnification or Minimization

8. Emotional Reasoning

9. Labeling

10. Personalization and Blame

Dr. Burns’ book is an excellent introduction to CBT and if you follow his guidelines and do the exercises as described, you may find some relief just from doing that! I often recommend that my clients purchase this book as an adjunct to our work together.

CBT has been helping people since the 1960s.

CBT was pioneered by Dr. Aaron Beck in the 1960’s as an alternative to psychoanalysis, which hadn’t been found to be very effective in treating depression. Today, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the

most researched theories in psychology, and hundreds of clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness in treating a wide variety of mental health conditions.

56 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page