In detail

When Cognitive Restructuring in Psychology is used

When Cognitive Restructuring in Psychology is used

Many of us have heard that the human mind is a labyrinth, because well in it inhabit the thoughts that are represented as cognitive schemes, which are the set of beliefs or mental images that relate to each other producing an interpretation of reality and some subsequent behavior . Sometimes our thinking is "distorted" that is to say, perceives things that do not coincide 100% with reality, so at that time the psychologist (a) must perform a therapy known as cognitive restructuring

Therefore, I will explain a little about this technique of cognitive restructuring, its definition, basic components, main authors and its practical utility.


  • 1 Definition of Cognitive Restructuring
  • 2 Components of Cognitive Restructuring
  • 3 Main authors
  • 4 Practical utility of Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive Restructuring Definition

It is a cognitive technique used by psychologists in a therapeutic process, to address those maladaptive and irrational thoughts (that is, they affect me and my environment). In general it is used in the cognitive - behavioral approach, which states that by changing thoughts in turn there is evidence of changes in the behavior of the individual in their environment.

The main objective is to question those maladaptive thoughts and replace them with others that do not generate some degree of discomfort (that is, they are rational and adaptive).

Components of Cognitive Restructuring

The central axis of this cognitive behavioral technique is thinking, which is considered as a hypothesis to be confronted by the psychologist and the patient. Taking this into account, part of an A-B-C model, where A is that situation, B are the thoughts (appropriate or not) about A and C is the emotional, behavioral and physical consequence of B.

Starting from this assumption the cognitive restructuring states that cognitions (ie thoughts) they play an important role in explaining how an individual behaves, including at the level of emotions. Emerging everything from the belief system and / or interpretations that is made of a certain situation.

Main Authors

We have 2 great exponents of cognitive restructuring: Beck Y Ellis. On the one hand Beck in his cognitive therapy states that behavioral and emotional disorders are the result of an alteration in the processing of information, which is caused by dysfunctional thoughts that produce a certain degree of bias (that is, alteration in the perception of reality). Its axis is the early experiences where any stressor generates certain negative thoughts.

In addition to this Albert Ellis with his rational emotional therapy (TRE) argues that an emotional alteration is caused by the interpretation that is made of it, which is sometimes evidenced in irrational beliefs (that is, any thought that is overgeneralized and absolutist, eg, "all men are liars") whether of oneself, of others and of the world.

Within these beliefs or irrational thoughts we find those thoughts that do not have a rational basis that supports them, some of the cognitive distortions or best known irrational thoughts are: personalization, catastrophizing, dichotomous thinking, minimization; among others.

Practical utility of Cognitive Restructuring

It is a very useful technique in different cases, it should be clarified that it must be performed by a psychologist who adopts this tool as part of his therapy. In general, its use is evidenced in: children, adolescents, couple problems, anxiety; among others.

Cognitive Restructuring in Children

In children through play It seeks to give the instructions of the technique, especially from 6 years onwards. With 2 strategies: the metaphor of television, saying "imagine that you have the power to change the way we think, your mind is like a TV and you can change the channel where channel 1 (irrational thoughts) is bad news and 2 is good (alternative thoughts)." Or with him use of mental puppets (angels vs devils).

Cognitive Restructuring in adolescents

In teenagers through 3 strategies: thinking detective (looking for clues and evidence of those thoughts), questioning journalist and giant magnifying glass (saying "what do you think happened to make you feel that way ?, let's see with a magnifying glass ...").

Finally, in problems of anxiety and problems of couple try to address in an original way, but questioning the thoughts from the point of view of logic.

In conclusion…

Thought has great power in every human being, this is reflected in their emotions and behavior throughout their lives. For this reason it is essential to know when it performs a positive function and when it does not, so we will be able to identify in a timely manner when we need psychological support. Remember that ... The idea is to prevent and not have to regret!


Boyes, A. (2013). Cognitive restructuring: Six ways to do cognitive restructuring. Psychology Today Retrieved from //

Cognitive Restructuring //

What is cognitive restructuring in cognitive behavioral therapy? //