Glossary – Critical Thinking

MENTAL MODELS are ways of thinking about a certain topic.

Getting the benefit of this concept requires awareness that all ways of thinking are based on a MENTAL MODEL of definitions, boundaries, connections (or lack of connections) between objects.

Over time, one becomes aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each of various MENTAL MODELS.

BOTH – AND is a way of thinking that allows one to hold two different perspectives in the mind – at the same time.

For example, BOTH – AND thinking about about the Brain-Body allows one to think about the whole Brain-Body system while at the same time being able to focus on a specific Brain-Body part.

Another example of BOTH – AND thinking is to be able to visualize and analyze Community level function (or trauma) while at the same time understanding the impact on an individual and the family.

COGNITIVE VERTIGO or COGNITIVE DISSONANCE can be a perception of mental “dizziness” or temporary instability when encountering ideas that are contrary to one’s usual mental model.

COGNITIVE VERTIGO can also happen when one is switching back-and-forth between two different mental models.
The remedy for COGNITIVE VERTIGO is to adopt a BOTH – AND perspective and to increase one’s TOLERANCE of AMBIGUITY.



TOLERANCE of AMBIGUITY is the capacity to consider uncertain and complex factors or outcomes – while exploring new options, patterns and connections – without having to prematurely close in on a certain solution.

REFLECTIVE PRACTICE is a choice to take a pause to consider, process and digest new concepts.


A commitment to spend regular time in REFLECTION can build awareness as well as deeper understanding and mastery of concepts.  The habit of REFLECTION also builds our TOLERANCE of AMBIGUITY.

REFLECTIVE PRACTICE prepares us to make change – in how we think and in choices we make.