Dr Edelman Challenges Our Thinking

Dr Sarah Edelman is one of Australia’s leading educators in the field of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). She is best known for her book Change Your Thinking, which was published in 2002.

Dr Edelman places the tools of modern psychology in the hands of the average person. She gives us positive and practical ways to overcome stress, negative emotions, and self-defeating behaviour.

Santa Maria was lucky enough to have Dr Edelman work with Year 9 students, parents and staff last week. Her visit was part of the College’s award-winning Mental Health Strategy. The feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive. There was an enthusiasm driven by the fact that people were given strategies that they could implement immediately.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy relies on the understanding that thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all related. Therefore, if you can challenge your thoughts, you can change your feelings and behaviours.

A big part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is challenging rigid thought patterns and common reasoning errors. These thought patterns limit our experience of the world. Below is a list of common reasoning errors and questions to begin challenging those thought patterns:

Black and white thinking:

Seeing things as absolutes – good or bad, even though most situations are somewhere in between.

Suggested question: Is there a different way you can look at this situation?


Exaggerating the ‘badness’; seeing a situation as more terrible than it is.

Suggested question: What would you tell a friend in this situation?

Predicting catastrophe:

Expecting negative future outcomes, without considering other more likely or less negative possibilities.

Suggested question: Are you believing you can predict the future?


Blaming yourself or others for things you perceive to be wrong.

Suggested question: Will this matter in five years’ time? 


Paying attention to bad things while ignoring good things that happen.

Suggested question: What’s good in this situation?


Rigid, inflexible beliefs about how we or other people and things should be.

Suggested question: Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?

Jumping to negative conclusions:

Making negative assumptions in spite of insufficient evidence.

Suggested question: Have your thoughts been wrong before?

Mind reading:

Believing you know what others are thinking, when you don’t have enough information.

Suggested question: Are you mind-reading what others might be thinking?


Making sweeping negative conclusions that go far beyond the current situation.

Suggested question: Is that the most likely scenario or the worst-case scenario? 


Putting a global label on yourself or others.

Suggested question: What evidence do you have to support this thought?  


Using other people’s experiences or achievements to rate yourself.

Suggested question: Are you putting unnecessary pressure on yourself?


This information may have an impact on the way we view and address anxiety and stress at school and in our lives generally.

After establishing these understandings, Dr Edelman went on to help us examine our own case studies. She also taught the adults in the community a number of techniques for helping to challenge the limiting cognitions of students and colleagues.

Although the sessions were information-packed, they were presented in a way that was engaging and practical. We hope that important cultural shifts will be born out of the experiences and knowledge that was shared with such a large proportion of our community.

What A Term! So Many Opportunities – Jennifer Oaten

As I look back on the past nine weeks, I am so grateful for who we are as a community and what we have achieved. Through the dedication of our staff and the enthusiasm of our students, we have established new connections, immersed ourselves in opportunities and worked through challenges.

Read More »
Scroll to Top