The Island Alien

Unhelpful Thinking Styles

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I have this worksheet stuck up on my fridge and I thought I’d share this with you all, since it helps me to check myself throughout the day.

It’s called the “Unhelpful Thinking Styles / Cognitive Distortions” worksheet.

What are “cognitive distortions”?

Cognitive distortions are characteristic thinking styles associated with emotional disturbance. Cognitive theory argues that biased thinking and biased information processing affects what an individual perceives. This leads to biased decision-making, biased emotion, and biased action. Distorted thinking in depression was identified by Aaron Beck in 1960’s, and David Burns published a more detailed analysis in Feeling Good (1980). This Unhelpful Thinking Styles information sheet gives details of 10 common cognitive distortions. Some clients find the label of ‘unhelpful thinking styles’ as less pejorative than ‘cognitive distortions’ or ‘thinking errors’.


It’s pretty difficult to see for ourselves when we are experiencing any of these types of thinking styles. The trick is to keep practising and checking yourself. Frequently ask yourself questions about what you’re thinking. Every time you start feeling down, look at the worksheet and run through each style and ask yourself if you’re thinking rationally and logically or is it just your mental illness saying these things to you.

Here’s another version I found online with a little variation and some hints on how to stop these lines of thinking:


Feel free to download these and use them to check your thinking!


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