Cognitive Restructuring and Reframing Thoughts

In CBT we use a technique called cognitive restructuring to modify our automatic negative thoughts to make them better reflect reality. With cognitive restructuring we’re not trying to engage in “positive thinking.” Positive thinking isn’t helpful because it doesn’t reflect reality either. Instead, cognitive restructuring involves reframing our negatively biased thoughts in order to see things from a more balanced perspective.

When we modify our thoughts with cognitive restructuring, we end up with alternate ways of looking at things that:

  • More accurately describe the situations we find ourselves in
  • We can believe because they make sense to us and aren’t just trying to force positive thinking
  • Improve our moods and how we feel because they’re not negatively biased or distorted

Cognitive Restructuring and Reframing Thoughts

Cognitive restructuring is one of the most important CBT techniques because it enables us to change the way we think, which, as we’ve discussed, is one of the keys to changing the way we feel. If you’d like to practice cognitive restructuring, you’ll find the questions from the video in the Cognitive Restructuring Worksheet (PDF):

In the next post we’ll look at the thought record, which guides us through the process of cognitive restructuring in detail. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them on the YouTube video page.