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Tuesday 15 November 2011

PsychologySalon November 22 at UBC Robson Square: When Our Minds Play Tricks On Us

The Tuesday November 22 PsychologySalon presentation at UBC Robson Square (7-9 pm) will feature Dr Lindsey Thomas. For tickets, call Changeways Clinic at 604 871 0490 or buy online here.

Dr Thomas is a registered psychologist at Changeways Clinic who works with people experiencing a wide variety of difficulties – mainly using the perspectives of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I spoke with her about her upcoming talk.

What is your talk about?

I’m going to be talking about some of the different distortions that can happen in our thinking – distortions that tend to become more pronounced in people when they are experiencing anxiety, depression, and anger.

Is this a talk that’s applicable for everyone?

Definitely. Cognitive distortions are things that we are all vulnerable to. I think that everyone will see themselves in at least some of what I talk about.

Can you give me an example of a distortion?

Sure. One of these is all or nothing thinking, which is a tendency to think in extremes. Things are either right or wrong, good or bad. The in-between or grey area gets missed. We see this particularly in people who have difficulties with depression and managing anger.

When might a person use all or nothing thinking?

One way would be to assume that we have all the answers. For example, I might assume that I have the right answer and that everyone else is wrong. As you can imagine, this can set people up for having difficulty relating to others.

I bet.  But why bother knowing our mistakes? Why is it useful to know how we distort things?

These thoughts are automatic; they often happen without our awareness. The goal is to slow the process down, learn to see the distortions as they occur, and work toward changing them if necessary.

Is this all about positive thinking?

Not at all. Although there is some value to seeing the positive side of things, this is more about looking for the evidence, and challenging the problematic thoughts that get us into trouble.

Is there anything wrong with positive thinking?

It’ll only take us so far. Cognitive distortions can shift us toward being either too positive or too negative; both of these can be a problem. This is more about coming into line with what’s really happening.

How do we make our thinking more realistic?

One of the main ways is to stop ourselves, look at what we are actually thinking, and then look at the evidence behind those thoughts. I’ll show some particular strategies in action at the talk.

What if I’m not depressed or anxious?

Again, this is something we all do, whether we are extreme enough to say we’re depressed or not. I’ll be giving a lot of examples, and demonstrating some strategies. I want the talk to be as practical as possible, so that people will take away useful ideas that they can use in their own lives.

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This will be our final talk for 2012. We will start up again on March 27 with Out of the Blue: The Nature and Treatment of Clinical Depression with Dr Randy Paterson.

Information and online registration for all talks can be found here. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

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