Challenging Cognitive Distortions Brought on by Trauma

Those who have experienced trauma in their lives find it hard to think of the world as a positive place. So, it can be challenging to change thought patterns in order to make new, positive memories for people who have an experience with trauma. Exaggerating thoughts that skew things negatively is something that’s common for people who have been impacted by trauma. This is known as cognitive dissonance. However, to overcome the effects of trauma and gain healing in order to access positive thinking and memories, challenging cognitive distortions is necessary.

During trauma-focused treatment, people who have been negatively affected by trauma can work on challenging cognitive distortions. This way, they can work towards more positive thinking behaviors which can help them move forward with their lives in a healthy way – impacting relationships, emotions, and even the memories they make in the future.

Identifying Cognitive Distortions in People Who Have Experienced Trauma

So what are cognitive distortions? Essentially, cognitive distortions are negative thought patterns that give people that have dealt with trauma the reason to believe things whether they’re true or not. Typically, the things that cognitive distortions lead people who have lived through traumatic experiences to believe are negative. So, having these thought patterns can lead to negative thinking and the overall worldview that there is nothing positive about life. However, of course, this isn’t true. And, addressing these negative thought patterns can help people who are dealing with them to turn around their views and live a life of more positivity.

Some examples of cognitive distorted thought patterns can include thinking things like:

  •  ”I’ll never be good enough”
  •  “I don’t deserve happiness”
  •  “I don’t do anything right”
  •  “I’ll always be a failure”

The Different Types of Cognitive Distortions

There are a few different types of negative thinking patterns that are considered cognitive distortions. People who have experienced trauma can develop any or all types of these negative thought patterns. The types of cognitive distortions include:

Personalizing: This type of cognitive distortion includes thinking patterns that revolve around the self. For example, taking the blame for things that may not have been one’s fault. Personalization involves taking things personally even if they aren’t personal at all.

Overgeneralizing: This type of thinking revolves around generalizing outcomes from things that occur that may not be true. For example, experiencing one negative intimate relationship and determining that one cannot be loved as a result.

Polarization: This type of cognition involves seeing things in two ways: good and bad. For these people, there are only winners and losers – no in between. So, if something they attempt doesn’t go 100% perfect for example, they may believe that they are a failure.

Catastrophizing: This type of thinking involves thinking only the worst outcome is possible. So, those experiencing this type of thinking may avoid challenges or keep goals because they only assume the worst will happen.

How Getting Help Can Help With Challenging Cognitive Distortions

During trauma treatment, people who have lived through trauma are faced with the task of challenging their cognitive distortions. This means identifying which types of distortions may be taking over their thoughts. And, learning about and practicing how to overcome and change these ways of thinking. This can help people be able to think about their lives and the outcomes of their daily tasks positively. Thus, enabling them to start creating positive memories and heal from their traumatic pasts.

Delray Beach Psychiatrist offers outpatient help for people who have experienced trauma and are challenged with cognitive distorted thought patterns. Learn more about our outpatient mental health treatment and services today from our website.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


Existing patients, please text 561-409-7296 for follow-up appointment requests or if you have medication concerns please text 561-409-7296.