This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thinking Errors

I don't remember where I got this particular handout, it's pretty standard for most of the residential treatment centers, hospitals and places that work with DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy).  I've found it a pretty good tool, although it only works if you have the cognitive and emotional ability to recognize, accept, and change these things... which my kids generally don't.


THINKING ERRORS

EXCUSES: This thinking error allows the person to have a reason for anything and everything, thus avoiding responsibility for his /her choices and actions.  Example:  “I was in a bad mood so I am not responsible for my behavior.”
BLAMING: This thinking error allows the person to project responsibility for his /her choices and actions onto everyone but himself /herself.  Example:  “If Joe were not so hard to get along with, I would have done what I was supposed to do” and “he made me mad.”
SEEKING SYMPATHY /VICTIM STATUS /HELPLESS: This thinking error allows the person to avoid responsibility for his/her life, choices, and actions by attempting to get people to feel sorry for him or her.  Example:  “If you give up on me you will just be another adult who has given up on me” and “I’ve had such a hard life.”
JUSTIFYING /RATIONALIZING: This thinking error allows the person to shift the focus of the presenting situation, thus avoiding a responsibility.  Example:  “Joe made me angry, so I didn’t feel….”
REDEFINING /REFOCUSING: This thinking error allows the person to shift the focus of the presenting situation, thus avoiding responsibility.  Example:  When asked if he /she did a specific assignment, he /she will reply with something to the effect of “No, but I did the one that you gave me to do last week” and “what about what Amanda did last week?”.
PET ME: This thinking error allows the person to avoid responsibility by doing things only to receive special attention and /or be viewed favorably.  This thinking error serves to maintain an undesired superficiality.  This thinking error is used when the person engages in acts purposefully designed to be recognized and /or receive the attention of someone in authority.  Example:  In a group setting, one might seek the attention of the leader by saying something to the effect of “look at mine;  I did it right, didn’t I?”.
UNIQUENESS: This thinking error allows the person to view himself /herself as different from others, and thus exempt from the rules which apply to and for others.  Example:  “I only did ________ once so I’m not as bad as Johnny” or “I don’t have to follow that rule.”
MAKING FOOLS OF: This thinking error technique allows the person to attempt to “one up” someone, or to try to make another appear foolish, so that he/ she may appear to be smarter or in some way better.  Sarcasm, especially when in the presence of others, is typical of this technique.  Example:  When a leader or person in authority makes a mistake, a person utilizing this thinking error might make a comment to the effect of “You don’t know what you’re doing or talking about”.
ASSUMING: This thinking error allows the person to think that he or she is so powerful that he/ she knows how others think and/ or feel.  This is done when the facts are not examined properly and the result is that the person draws conclusions which might not be correct.  Example:  “He was asking for it.”
MINIMIZING: This thinking error allows the person to not take full responsibility by allowing themselves to believe and attempting to make others believe that what he/ she did was not important or serious.  Example:  “I didn’t hit her that hard” or “I didn’t use that many drugs.”
VAGUENESS: This thinking error technique allows the person to avoid accountability by not being specific.  Example: “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.”
ANGER: This thinking error technique is used to attempt to control and manipulate others.  Example:  One might stay stuck in an angry mood to avoid dialogue, or one might make statements such as, “You’re really pissing me off now” so as to avoid questions designed at helping him/ her to take responsibility.
KEEPING SCORE: This thinking error technique allows the person to avoid any productivity and responsibility by maintaining a record of mistakes by others and/ or ways in which he/ she may have felt wronged.  Also, it allows one to keep track of criticisms of, or mistakes by peers, so that he/ she can always engage in self comparisons.  Examples:  “Last week you expressed anger impulsively toward me, so I have a right to do it to you now.”  “Johnny was allowed to do his assignment over, so I should be able to do so also.”
GRANDIOSITY OR MAGICAL THINKING: This thinking error allows the person to exaggerate matters or to engage in avoidance and/ or denial by presuming miraculous solutions will occur.  Example:  “My father has a lot of money, so he’ll come and get me out of jail if I ever get arrested again.  “I’ll never get caught.”  “No one is stronger than me.”
CONFUSION: This thinking error allows the person to avoid responsibility by presenting himself/ herself as puzzled, and maintaining that posture.
YOU’RE OK, I’M OK:  this thinking error technique allows the person to avoid responsibility by maintaining superficiality with others, such that one is not confronted by others if one does not confront others on their destructive patterns.  Example:  “I won’t call you on your mistakes if you don’t call me on mine.”
IT’S MINE: This thinking error allows the person to engage in destructive patterns by perceiving and demonstrating a false sense of ownership.  This person’s thinking and actions reflect a world view based on his perceived rights, desires, and objectives.  Example:  “I can do anything I want to do.”
LYING: This thinking error allows the person to avoid responsibility by making up things that are not true, submitting only partial truths through omission of certain facts, and/ or by presenting himself/ herself in a way which is not at all genuine, but in such a way as to be viewed favorably or perhaps to acquire some sort of personal gain.
PHONINESS: This thinking error technique allows a person to present himself/ herself in such a way as to appear cooperative and/ or helpful, when in fact, it is not genuine, and may be used to manipulate for self gain.  A usually unexpressed thought underlying this presentation is something to the effect of “I have done something nice for you; now you owe me something.”
MAXIMIZING: This thinking error allows the person to avoid dealing with the real issues, while placing emphasis on something which is not as critical and important.  This is usually accomplished through dramatic and grandiose means.  This is best exemplified when a person focuses on the way someone said something as opposed to focusing on the matter which is actually being disclosed/ discussed.  Example:  When one disclosed a new victim of his/ her behaviors, one might focus more on how the information was presented as opposed to why the information was previously withheld.


THINKING ERRORS WORKSHEET
NAME: ______________________________________ DATE:________________________________________
Identify Thinking Errors which you make, and describe how each one enables you to avoid taking responsibility for your actions.  Note the types of situations in which you use these thinking errors.   Note strategies, such as “Self-Talk” which you can use to redirect your thinking on occasions in which you discover you are engaged in making a Thinking Error.  Review both your thinking errors and your strategies for addressing them with your therapist.
THINKING ERROR:  A cognitive distortion.  A thought which can interfere with your ability to objectively self-monitor.  A thought which brings you closer to the act of offending.  A thought which rationalizes or excuses mistakes, allowing you to avoid taking responsibility for your behavior.  A thought which distorts your perception of reality.  A thought or manner of thinking which allows problematic patterns of behavior to persist in your life.
1. THINKING ERROR: ___________________________________________________________________________
Description of error: _________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________
How this thinking error: affects you: ____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Positive Alternative Statement or Thought: ______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. THINKING ERROR: ___________________________________________________________________________
Description of error: _________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________
How this thinking error: affects you: ____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Positive Alternative Statement or Thought: ______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. THINKING ERROR: ___________________________________________________________________________
Description of error: _________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________
How this thinking error: affects you: ____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Positive Alternative Statement or Thought: ______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. THINKING ERROR: ___________________________________________________________________________
Description of error: _________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________
How this thinking error: affects you: ____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Positive Alternative Statement or Thought: ______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. THINKING ERROR: ___________________________________________________________________________
Description of error: _________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________
How this thinking error: affects you: ____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Positive Alternative Statement or Thought: ______________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. THINKING ERROR: ___________________________________________________________________________
Description of error: _________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________
How this thinking error: affects you: ____________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Positive Alternative Statement or Thought: ______________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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