One of man’s concerns was based onhuman behaviorand focused his effort on understanding those behaviors derived frompsychological disordersand how to correct them.

To do this, he devised techniques, procedures and strategies in the belief of helping individuals solve thosebehavioral problems.

Among them, a strategy calledcognitive restructuring emerged. This strategy consists of a psychological intervention aimed at modifying certain cognitive distortions in the individual.

Here we present the following article, where we explain what this technique consists of and its usefulness for man.

What is cognitive restructuring?

Cognitive restructuringis a psychological strategy, whose purpose is that individuals learn to change some ways of distorted thoughts, and that lead to emotional distress.

Note: It is effective in combatingunpleasant emotionsthat generate discomfort and can block the patient, without allowing him to maintain ahealthy lifestyle.

This technique finds great success with emotions, which come fromcognitive distortionsor negative thoughts, and manifest themselves inanxiety, worries, anger among others. Thelack of self-esteemand the approach tosocial relationships are also benefited by this technique.

Important: Cognitive restructuring was developed and introducedby Albert Ellisinto the psychological literature in 1958. During the following years, they expanded and deepened in this technique and later the school ofAaron Beck was added.

The objective of this strategy isto identify, confront and replacethose negative thought patterns that affect our behavior and that underlie manypsychological pathologies.


Characteristics of cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring bases its strategy on the treatment and correction of Distorted thoughtstag. We present below its most relevant characteristics:

It constitutes a psychological intervention strategy

Science has the characteristic that it works with Methodology, with previously assessed criteria and procedures. This is how strategies emerge, to address problems and have the highest probability of success.

Note: Cognitive restructuring is a technique , a strategy developed to modify behaviors that generate undesirable effects, both for the individual and for those around him.

This intervention is elaborated step by step, fulfilling stages that will guarantee a favorable modification in human behavior .

Identify and confront cognitive distortions

Important: Cognitive restructuring helps to identify these cognitive distortions and guides the individual on how to face, address and overcome them.

Corrects negative thought patterns

A negative thought is generally a criticism of oneself, but it can also involve how we think of others,

The concurrence of these negative thoughts, if they are not treated, become behavior patterns , very harmful for people.

Cognitive restructuring, through intervention, introspection and methodological work, tries to modify or replace these negative patterns , replacing them with positive and pleasant thoughts, emotions and sensations .

Curious fact: In a scientific work entitled “Animal Assisted Therapy to Support Cognitive Restructuring” , it was concluded that the use of therapy dogs can contribute to the process of cognitive restructuring. ( 1 )

Allows to treat mental and emotional disorders

The concept of mental or emotional alterations constitutes a variety of behaviors that significantly affect the ability of people to handle the demands of daily life.

This causes difficulties for the individual in thinking, feelings, functional behavior and personal relationships . Such are the frequent cases of depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia.

Important: The Cognitive-behavioral restructuringStrategyas part of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapiesis useful for reducing positive symptoms and treating emotional disturbances; it has also had an impact on negative symptoms. This is how an article on“Cognitive-behavioral therapy in schizophrenia: a narrative review of the literature” describes it(2).

Also in a case of anxiety it is treated under cognitive restructuring, as a strategy of cognitive-behavioral therapies, as explained in an article on “Cognitive-behavioral intervention in a case of emotional confusion and low anger control.” (3)

Another study reveals positive results of this therapy in reducing depression in institutionalized depressed elderly without cognitive impairment. ( 4 )

It is based on theoretical assumptions

Cognitive restructuring is based on the following theoretical assumptions :

  • The first, refers to the way in which people cognitively structure their experiences in the brain, exerts a fundamental influence, and how they feel and act, and from there, on the physical reactions they manifest.
  • The second is that these cognitions are identifiabletag. For this, it is necessary to resort to information gathering methods such as interviews, surveys and others.
  • The third is that these cognitions are perfectly modifiable by the individual.

It is based on the ABC model

The Cognitive Model on which cognitive restructuring is based has been called the Abc model by some authors, and they refer to the following:

  • To refers to a situation, event or activating experience in real life, that is, the stimulus.
  • C refers to the consequences, manifestations or emotional, behavioral and physical reactions with respect to B or to the perception or thought that our brain has elaborated.

Improve mentality for increased well-being

Cognitive restructuring, by managing to modify the way of perceiving and interpreting stimuli , transforming them into positive thoughts , will have an impact on well-being at a cognitive and physical level.

Important fact: A study entitled “Cognitive-emotional restructuring after a grieving process integrating brief solution-focused and cognitive-behavioral techniques” ( 5 ), concluded that the use of the cognitive restructuring strategy together with other intervention strategies mitigates in the patient’s grieving process.


Cognitive restructuring techniques

Like any strategy based on the Scientific method , it includes techniques and procedures proven throughout Clinical Practicestag. Here we present the most important ones:

Socratic dialogue

This technique tries to question the patient’s thoughts , perceptions or cognitive distortions, so that he has to consider them and be critical of his own thoughts.

In this way, it is sought that the patient achieves by his own means, find different types of alternatives to the initial thought.

down arrow

It is about identifying the central belief that is underlying a thought. The procedure is to ask a question to theinitial automatic thought of the patient, and from then on, ask questions about the answers that the patient is manifesting, with the intention of delving into the Central Beliefs that prevail in him.

Prosecute thoughts

Then, based on these evidences, he himself will attack them, also with evidence to later evaluate and evaluate them to verify if it is time to get rid of the initial way of thinking.


Through the staging and Interpretation of roles (role-playing) , significant changes can be produced in the patient’s mind, in addition to increasing emotional control and empathy .

Note: If a patient feels anxious about a future event, it is possible that by carrying out an anticipated role of the role that they are going to play (for example, an interview), they will be able to face their fears and anxieties in advance, working on their emotions and thoughts, discovering that perhaps such negative thoughts do not exist.

paradoxical intention

This technique will be guided by the therapist , where he will tell you to do the opposite of Negative thinkingtag. This will allow him to evaluate one or more alternatives that he would never have thought of.

Important: Paradoxical intention is a cognitive-behavioral technique, which involves introducing a change in the way of thinking.

What would happen if…?

In general, cognitive distortions are nothing more than an exaggerated view of realitytag. This technique consists of asking the patient that same question, or asking him what he thinks is the worst that could happen to him in a certain situation.

The intention is that the patient, in the worst case scenario, discovers that there are situations which he can assume and how these do not represent a game between life and death.


Key Findings

  • It is a cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • It is based on theoretical foundations.
  • It has a wide range of techniques.
  • Its purpose is to change cognitive distortions.
  • Requires the introspective participation of the patient
  • It seeks to improve the quality of life of the individual and society.

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