All About Catastrophic Thinking and How to Overcome it with Psychological Therapy & Counselling

Catastrophic Thinking Trap - woman with head in her hands

What is Catastrophic Thinking?

Catastrophic Thinking involves taking a relatively minor event and imagining all sorts of terrible disasters ensuing as a result and is one of the thinking traps that can get in the way of happiness and success.

It is blowing things wildly out of proportion compared to what actually happened and then adding in a healthy dose of exaggeration to boot.

People who catastrophise combine anxiety and pessimism into a cocktail of disproportionate emotions.

Take for example Carol.

Twenty minutes ago, she was getting ready to go out to her friend’s house but has realised she can’t find her purse.

Rather than calmly sit down and try to remember when she used it last and where she might have put it, she begins to catastrophise:

Carol’s Catastrophic Thinking

“I can’t find my purse… Oh no, I must have left it on the counter at the department store when I bought that new jumper…

someone is bound to have seen it and nicked it by now!

I’ll bet that person who was behind me in the queue saw my PIN number when I used my debit card..

they’re bound to have emptied my bank account by now and probably stolen my identity too…

That means that I’m not going to be able to pay my bills or my mortgage..

What if the bank decide they’re going to re-possess my house?

I’ll be out on the street living in a cardboard box…

How on earth can I have been so reckless!”

Catastrophic Thinking Volcano Metaphor

Catastrophic Thinking is a Lack of Perspective

Carol, like many people with a catastrophic thinking style, finds it hard to maintain perspective and to evaluate situations realistically.

Catastrophisers have vivid imaginations which they use to create doom-laden futures with frightening scenarios.

These catastrophic ‘visions’ inevitable lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

Furthermore, those who catastrophise tend to mitigate any skills and resources that they may have that might allow then to deal with adversity.

Catastrophic thinking is the ultimate lack of perspective which is propped-up through the use of catastrophic language patterns.

In fact, catastrophising relies on catastrophic language as fuel whether it be spoken words or unspoken thoughts.

Catastrophic thinking utilises flamboyant, disproportionate language to stir up the emotional experience.

Things aren’t going to be just bad, they’re going to be really, really bad.

Catastrophic thinking sufferer in therapy session

Therapy & Counselling for Catastrophic Thinking

We offer a number of different types of therapy and counselling for catastrophic thinking problems.

Choosing the most suitable therapy depends on a number of different considerations including factors such as:

  • How long you have had the problem.
  • Your personal preferences.
  • How your problem is affecting you today.

You can read more about the different types of therapy for anxiety on the following links:

Although all therapies use slightly different approaches, the one thing they all have in common is the relationship that is formed between the client and therapist.

Research suggests that this therapy relationship may be the most important factor in achieving a good therapy outcome.

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Arrange your FREE initial consultation here.

If you’d like to find out more about overcoming catastrophic thinking or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome catastrophic thinking but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences and the World around you with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

Not Ready to Commit to Therapy Quite Yet?

Then why not see if you can solve your own problems using our comprehensive, Online Self-Help CBT course.


Written especially for people who prefer not to engage with a therapist before first doing everything they can to overcome their problems themselves.

Mirroring our in-house course of CBT, it contains everything that you need to know to tackle mental health challenges for only £149.

Counselling Locations

We offer counselling for catastrophic thinking problems for people living in:

  • Wombourne
  • Wolverhampton
  • West Midlands
  • Shropshire
  • South Staffordshire
  • Telford
  • Shrewsbury

You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.