A thinking trap, also known as a cognitive distortion, can be a way that your perception or interpretation of something (such as an event) is driving an irrational or unhelpful thought. Here are some common cognitive distortions that I hear from clients who are struggling with food and/or body.
The first step to working on thinking traps is to educate yourself about them and then to identify them when they come up for you. This could look like having a thought and then reminding yourself that this thought is a thinking trap.
Once you get comfortable identifying and acknowledging thinking trap thoughts, you can begin to counter them with a more helpful statement. This could be a direct statement or a distraction from the thinking trap.
For example, if you had the thinking trap thought of, “I shouldn’t be eating this food,” then you can counter it by saying something like, “all foods can fit into my life and although this food may be scary, it will not hurt me.” We also have an All Foods Fit Guide that may help you come up with a more helpful statement - check it out!
You can also distract yourself from the thinking trap. This could look like having the thought, “I shouldn’t be eating this food,” and then redirecting yourself to watch TV, talk to a friend, or engage in self-care. By doing this, you are essentially not giving more attention to the unhelpful thinking trap thought.
In turn, using a more helpful counter statement or a distraction technique can decrease the anxiety, depression, and eating disorder urges that may be fueled by that unhelpful thought.
Activity: Let’s practice by looking at the three types of thinking traps that I outlined above. Below you will see each of the three thinking traps and some questions to start with.
These are just a few ways to tackle those pesky thoughts that may be contributing to anxiety, depression, and eating disorder urges. This process derives from a therapy modality called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This type of therapy is often used in the treatment of eating disorders.
Want more? All of our therapists and coaches at the Eating Disorder Center use this modality alongside other modalities and have received additional training specific to the treatment of eating disorders.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California, serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.