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  • Writer's pictureRobert Davies

a Depressed Teen: (Part 3) Yusuf

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Robert Davies (C) 2018

The very next morning Jusuf was knocking at Mr. Jenkins’ door. They chatted a bit, then they both went to work.

“Okay, Jusuf. Let's look at your negative thought."


“Remember, Jusuf, that it is your negative thoughts that give you your negative emotions. A lot of the time, there are ‘twisted’ thoughts or mind traps or cognitive distortions in our thoughts. Let us check to see what distortions might be in your thoughts. If we find a distortion, then we can correct your thought and write a new, realistic and positive thought. Sound good?”

“Yes, Mr. Jenkins.”

“ Is your thought “I might fail my school term,” all-or-nothing thinking? Is it an extreme? Is it fail or pass?”

“It is extreme because it is about passing my term or failing my term.”

"Jusuf, let's say you don't pass because of one subject such as Math. Well, you passed the other four and maybe did great. So, in realty you passed in 80% of your subjects. Do you get my drift?"

"Yes." "Do you understand that saying I failed is as if you failed everything when probably you didn't. That makes it a lie which is what a distortion is. Do we have one distortion then?"

Okay, that is one distortion.“

“Now, let us look at overgeneralization. Is it overgeneralization? Do you generalize from the struggles this term to your life in general?”


“Why is that?”

“Well, I used it to think about my future career, my married life, my home.”

“Exactly! Write down three distortion, 1, 2 & 3.

“Are you using Mental Filter, filtering out all the positive things in your life and just keeping the negative?”

“Well, I am just thinking about what could go wrong?”

“Yes, and it is all negative. What about your life in Turkey, your parents, siblings, friends, school, recreation? I am sure there is lots of positive things. And your teachers here, I know they are concerned about you and want to help. They told me about your feeling depressed. Am I a positive influence? Maybe I can be part of the positive that you seem to be forgetting about?"

“Yes, Mr. Jenkins, I am using the Mental Filter?”

“Now the Discounting the Positive is just the flip side of Mental Filter. Are you forgetting about all the positive things in your life when you are thinking, “I might fail my school term?”

Yusuf nodded his head.

“Okay that makes distortions, 1,2, 3, & 4.

“How about Jumping to Conclusions? Are you fortune telling, saying you know the future? You will fail your term is telling the future. No one can predict that. Suddenly, you have some friends at school. That can make all the difference in your mood. Didn’t you say that you don’t need me now? See! Watch your assignments get passed in now and watch your attention span strengthen with your improved mood. Were you fortune telling?

“Yes, I was.”

“Well, that is 5 distortions, all told.”

“Were you magnifying the problem, making it bigger than it was?” Did you go from feeling down about your studies to not finding a wife and not having a career? That is pretty huge!”

Yusuf nodded again.

“Were you thinking with your feelings? Because you felt like life was failing you, did you think that as proof that you were failing? I think so. What do you think?”

“Yes, another distortion!”

“Now what about labeling? Did you label yourself a ‘loser’ in your own mind?”

“Yes, again. I guess that is 9 distortions.”

“And finally, did you blame your parents for sending you to Canada or your grandparents for being so boring? Did you blame your classmates for being terrible and your new school as a problem? I mean, yes, it is hard being in a new country and it takes time to adjust. So, you can blame your parents somewhat. However, did you help? Did you decide Canada sucked without giving it a chance?”

“Mr. Jenkins, I can’t believe it. There are 10 distortions in my one thought. I guess it can’t be 100% true then.”

“No, it can’t.”

“So what would be more truthful, more realistic, more positive?”

“Well, instead of “I might fail my school term.” I could write, “I might fail my term if I don’t apply myself.”

“Yes, you could. Can you make it more positive sounding?”

“I can succeed at this school if I put my mind to it because I have always been a good student. If I have been successful before, I can be successful again.”

“How true is that?”

“It is completely true.”

“How true are you other negative thoughts?”

“They aren’t true.” “That new thought,” said Mr. Jenkins, is a great new one. Now I will write that on a file card and you stick it somewhere where you can read it once a class each day to remind you.”


Once Yusuf started catching his negative thoughts with all his other negative thoughts using cognitive distortions, all his old negative thoughts became lies.

"About those negative emotions. How high are they now?"

"They aren't. Most of them are at 0% and others are down around 20%."

Thank you, Mr. Jenkins, I sure am feeling better."

Thank you, Jusuf, for helping me out. I believe you learned a lot. I did!”

“I did, too!”


Extra Information

Cognitive Distortions Used in Blog

All-or-nothing thinking. You look at things in absolute, black-and-white categories.

Overgeneralization. You take one single event and you generalize it to your entire life. .

Mental filter. You dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.

Discounting positives. You insist your positive qualities don't count.

Jumping to conclusions. You jump to conclusions not warranted by the facts.

Mind-reading. You assume that people are reacting negatively to you.

Fortune-telling. You predict that things will turn out badly.

Magnification or minimization. You blow things way out of proportion or shrink them.

Emotional reasoning. You reason from your feelings: “I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.”

Should statements. You use “shoulds,” “shouldn'ts,” “musts,” “oughts,” and “have tos.” There are only three valid should's, scientific, legal and moral. Usually, our should's are everything but that.

Labeling. Instead of saying, “I made a mistake,” you tell yourself, “I'm a jerk” or “I'm a loser.”

Self-blame and other-blame.

Self-blame. You blame yourself for something you weren't entirely responsible for.

Other-blame. You blame others and overlook ways you contributed to the problem.


Finding Meaning in What Seems Meaningless

Most people like stories, and therapy is all about stories. Telling stories about powerful techniques used in TEAM CBT therapy demystify this therapy one story at a time.

Yet, confidentiality is a cornerstone of all counselling. Without confidentiality, clients wouldn’t feel safe going to therapy to divulge the most painful areas of their lives. To safeguard clients while illustrating TEAM CBT techniques, confidentiality is kept by either having the client’s consent or by distorting the facts, making the client unrecognizable .

Robert Davies

Counselling Therapist

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