The Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Tree

Introducing Unhelpful Thinking Patterns


CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUKI sat in my garden thinking how much i love the autumn with the leaves of the trees changing colour and how fortunate i am to be able to take time out to be in the moment to enjoy this splash of colour whilst going through these uncertain times with Covid. When i am working with our clients from Braintrainersuk with my business partner and friend Carrie we have the pleasure of helping others to get back their lives and regain being in the moment and seeing the colour without the black cloud of anxiety and depression over them.





We all need a splash of colour in our lives and Novembers blog is about those…

Unhelpful Thinking Patters





Christine Padeskeys a CBT Guru and uses the garden as a metaphor  , where she talks about the weeds in the garden being our Unhelpful  thoughts and keep popping up, no matter how hard we try to get rid of them they can keep coming back. And when we get stuck in our unhelpful thoughts there may well be where a deep root that needs looking at  like a core belief , rule, or early life experiences .  My version is the CBT Tree .Over the next  few blogs, we will be looking at how Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help with many anxiety disorders like OCD, Social, Phobias, Panic, Generalised Anxiety  and Health anxiety as well as Trauma (PTSD)  ,Depression and Low self-esteem.




CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUKIn this blog I will be talking about how Cognitive Distortions , I prefer to call them Unhelpful thinking patterns  and how they

can take a toll on our mental health , leading to increased stress, depression  and anxiety . If we ignore these negative thought patterns , then they can become deep rooted and may negatively influence the way we think and make decisions

For those looking to improve their mental health by recognizing  these deep-rooted unhelpful thinking patterns we have compiled a list of 10 common ones that you may notice are affecting your thinking and behaviour


CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUK1-BLACK-AND-WHITE THINKING

A person with this dichotomous thinking pattern typically sees things in terms of all or nothing. Not being able to recognise the middle ground of there being shades of grey

Where does black and white thinking come from? Well it mostly comes from our emotional responses to things . It is our primal brain at work . We get angry or fearful and resort to  absolutes

A good example of this when we fail a test “ I am so stupid, I will never ever pass this test , I will never get anywhere in life  Here is an exercise to see whether you can think of the middle word between the extremes Good … Bad    Strong……Weak     Simple … Complex     Fat … Skinny    Pretty … Ugly      Calm…Hyper



When engaging in this type of thinking, an individual tends to take things personally. This can be attributed through Interpretating the behaviours of others and blaming self for their actions. There are often external circumstances that are outside of the people’s control. With this Unhelpful thinking  pattern , people may notice they are aologising more than necessary , or having the inability to say no sometimes.




Thoughts that include “should,” “ought,” or “must” are almost always related to a Unhelpful thinking pattern. For example: “I should have left home earlier to catch that bus or, “I must always please everyone. These types of thinking can induce feelings of frustration or anger . The should thoughts are not just related to us; they can be related to others “she ought  to have said thank you for what I did for her “. Such thoughts can lead someone in feeling disappointed, sad and anger when others fail to meet their unrealistic expectations . We can hope that people will meet our expectations, however these are ours and not always the same as others , we cannot control others behaviours . Thinking about what others should be doing , just causes us to continue  in the vicious cycle


CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUKThis occurs when a person sees any unpleasant occurrence as the worst possible outcome. A person who is catastrophising might fail an exam and immediately think he or she has likely failed the entire course. A person may not have even taken the exam yet and already believe he or she will fail—assuming the worst, or preemptively catastrophising.

The difficulties with catastrophising is that you can get easily sucked up into the tornado before you have anyway of controlling or stopping this from happening. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can help with strategies  in being able to identify triggers and ways in stopping someone from being sucked up.





CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUKWhen you find yourself trapped in this type of thinking pattern, you are either magnifying your mistakes and analysing it under a giant magnifying glass or minimising your strengths as if they are small and insignificant.

Magnifying is making a mountain out of a molehill. Leading to overly exaggerating or blowing things out of proportion , though not quite to the extent of the Catastrophising thinking style




6-Minimising  The same person who experiences the magnifying thinking patterns  may Minimise positive events. These unhelpful thinking patterns  sometimes occur in conjunction with each other. A person who distorts reality by minimising may think something like, “Yes, I got a raise, but it wasn’t very big and I’m still not very good at my job Or I passed my driving test , but it took me 3 times and I was just lucky on the day



 7-MINDREADINg This type of thinker may assume the role of being able to read people’s minds and know what they are thinking and feeling without any external  confirmation that his or her assumption is true.  Example being your child goes into school crying and you instantly think   “ the teacher thinks I am a bad mum”


8-FORTUNE TELLING   Fortune telling is a thinking style in which you predict a negative outcome without realistically considering the actual odds of that outcome. It is linked to anxiety and depression and is one of the most common unhelpful thinking patterns that arise during cognitive restructuring. Such a thinker arbitrarily predicts that things will turn out poorly. Before a concert or movie, you might hear him or her say, “I just know that all the tickets will be sold out when we get there., I know he is not going to  like the restaurant I have booked”




When overgeneralising, a person may conclude based on one or two single events, despite the fact reality is too complex to make such generalisations. If a friend misses a lunch date, this does not mean he or she will always fail to keep commitments. overgeneralising statements often  include the words “always, never, everyone, or “all.”


10-DISCOUNTING THE POSITIVE. This extreme form of all-or-nothing thinking occurs when a person discounts positive information about a performance, event, or experience and sees only negative aspects. A person engaging in this type of unhelpful thinking  might disregard any compliments or positive reinforcement he or she receives.” They are just saying that because they are my friend “


I hope this blog has been helpful and maybe you have noticed an unhelpful thinking pattern that you are doing and need some help with CBT strategies . We are offering  online therapy due to the COVID- 19 and this could be an opportunity to get some help without needing to visit a therapist . We pride ourselves as a company in enabling you to access CBT immediately with online therapy, no long waiting . Getting the help when you need it. Regards Kim, 20+ years mental health specialist


CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUK CBT_Therapy_Tree_BraintrainersUK –
Covering London & the South East in Person and UK & Europe via Online Services ( Skype, Whatsapp, Zoom )
Kim and Carrie
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