This simple exercise can help the user to see that while we have lots of emotionally charged thoughts, they are not all objective truths. Recognizing the difference between fact and opinion can assist us in challenging the dysfunctional or harmful opinions we have about ourselves and others. This worksheet employs the use of Socratic questioning, a technique that can help the user to challenge irrational or illogical thoughts. You or your client can use this space to write down a specific thought, usually, one you suspect is destructive or irrational.
Next, you write down the facts supporting and contradicting this thought as a reality.
What facts about this thought being accurate? What facts call it into question? Once you have identified the evidence, you can use the last box to make a judgment on this thought, specifically whether it is based on evidence or simply your opinion. The next page is a mind map of Socratic Questions which can be used to further challenge the thought.
If you are having thoughts that do not come from a place of truth, this Cognitive Restructuring Worksheet can be an excellent tool for identifying and defusing them.
Read on for additional useful and effective exercises. In order to test a thought, you can experiment with the outcomes that different thoughts produce. For example, you can test the thoughts:. First, you would try criticizing yourself when you need the motivation to work harder and record the results.
Then you would try being kind to yourself and recording the results. Next, you would compare the results to see which thought was closer to the truth. These Behavioral Experiments to Test Beliefs can help you learn how to achieve your therapeutic goals and how to be your best self.
Thought records are useful in testing the validity of your thoughts Boyes, They involve gathering and evaluating evidence for and against a particular thought, allowing for an evidence-based conclusion on whether the thought is valid or not. If I am understanding of this, I will truly be a good friend. Thought records apply the use of logic to ward off unreasonable negative thoughts and replace them with more balanced, rational thoughts Boyes, This technique can be especially helpful for dealing with depression Boyes, It involves scheduling activities in the near future that you can look forward to.
For example, you may write down one activity per day that you will engage in over the next week.
This can be as simple as watching a movie you are excited to see or calling a friend to chat. It can be anything that is pleasant for you, as long as it is not unhealthy i. You can also try scheduling an activity for each day that provides you with a sense of mastery or accomplishment Boyes, This simple technique can introduce more positivity into your life, and our Pleasant Activity Scheduling Worksheet is designed to help.
This exercise involves thinking about a recent memory that produced strong negative emotions and analyzing the situation. For example, if you recently had a fight with your significant other and they said something hurtful, you can bring that situation to mind and try to remember it in detail. Next, you would try to label the emotions and thoughts you experienced during the situation and identify the urges you felt e.
Visualizing this negative situation, especially for a prolonged period of time, can help you to take away its ability to trigger you and reduce avoidance coping Boyes, When you expose yourself to all of the feelings and urges you felt in the situation and survive experiencing the memory, it takes some of its power away.
This Imagery Based Exposure Worksheet is useful resource for this exercise. Making a situation exposure hierarchy involves means listing situations that you would normally avoid Boyes, For example, someone with severe social anxiety may typically avoid making a phone call or asking someone on a date.
Next, you rate each item on how distressed you think you would be, on a scale from 0 to 10, if you engaged in it. For the person suffering from severe social anxiety, asking someone on a date may be rated a 10 on the scale, while making a phone call might be rated closer to a 3 or 4. Once you have rated the situations, you rank them according to their distress rating. This will help you recognize the biggest difficulties you face, which can help you decide which items to address and in what order.
Download our Graded Exposure Worksheet here. Some of these books are for the therapist only, and some are to be navigated as a team or with guidance from the therapist. There are many manuals out there for helping therapists apply cognitive behavioral therapy in their work, but these are some of the most popular:.
Here are some of the most popular workbooks and manuals for clients to use alone or with a therapist:. There are many other manuals and workbooks available that can help get you started with CBT, but the tools above are a good start. Mindfulness can have a wide range of positive impacts, including helping with depression, anxiety, addiction, and many other mental illnesses or difficulties.
Mindfulness can help those suffering from harmful automatic thoughts to disengage from rumination and obsession by helping them stay firmly grounded in the present. This is a fancy name for a simple idea that you have likely already heard of: breaking up large tasks into small steps. It can be overwhelming to be faced with a huge goal, like opening a business or remodeling a house. This is true in mental health treatment as well, since the goal to overcome depression or anxiety and achieve mental wellness can seem like a monumental task.
By breaking the large goal into small, easy-to-accomplish steps, we can map out the path to success and make the journey seem a little less overwhelming. When you or your client are being plagued by negative thoughts, it can be hard to confront them, especially if your belief in these thoughts is strong. To counteract these negative thoughts, it can be helpful to write down a positive, opposite thought.
When you are feeling depressed or negative, it is difficult to recognize that there are positive aspects of life. This simple technique of bringing to mind the good parts of your day can be a small step in the direction of recognizing the positive Anderson, The simple act of writing down these good things can forge new associations in your brain that make it easier to see the positive, even when you are experiencing negative emotions. It can be easy to succumb to negative thoughts as a default setting. Reframing involves countering the negative thought s by noticing things you feel positive about as quickly as possible.
Individuals with OCD definitely get stuck on gray area situations where some people take risks and others would chose not to. Developed by leading scientist-practitioners and solidly grounded in current psychological research, the approach integrates cognitive therapy principles and practice into a mindfulness framework. I was then sent to see a psychiatrist, who over the course of 6 months which cost a lot of money , did nothing to help me at all - I actually felt worse after each visit, each time I would leave feeling like a complete and utter failure. This is very difficult and I recommend finding an OCD specialist to help you in this process. Why do our sleep patterns change across a lifetime? They are often afraid any state of mind alteration will cause them to do something crazy like molest or harm someone.
For instance, in the example where you immediately think of how much you hate the color of that wall, you would push yourself to notice five things in the room that you feel positively about e. You can set your phone to remind you throughout the day to stop what you are doing and think of the positive things around you.
This can help you to push your thoughts back into the realm of the positive instead of the negative. In this post, we offered many techniques, tools, and resources that can be effective in the battle against depression, anxiety, OCD, and a host of other problems or difficulties.
However, as is the case with many treatments, they depend on you or your client putting in a lot of effort. We encourage you to give these techniques a real try and allow yourself the luxury of thinking that they could actually work. When we approach a potential solution with the assumption that it will not work, that assumption often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we approach a potential solution with an open mind and the belief that it just might work, it has a much better chance of succeeding.
So if you are struggling with negative automatic thoughts , please consider these tips and techniques and give them a shot. Likewise, if your client is struggling, encourage them to make the effort, because the payoff can be better than they can imagine. If you are struggling with severe symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts, please call the following number in your respective country:.
For a list of other suicide prevention websites, phone numbers, and resources, see this website.
Please know that there are people out there who care and that there are treatments that can help. Thank you for reading, and please let us know about your experiences with CBT in the comments section. Are there any other helpful exercises or techniques that we did not touch on in this piece?
Was this article useful to you? No Yes Share this article:. Courtney Ackerman , MSc. She is currently working as a researcher for the State of California and her professional interests include survey research, well-being in the workplace, and compassion. Im a Hypnotherapist and found so much value in this article and all the resources provided.
Thank you for breaking it down and making the examples so practical and easy to apply. Being a hands-on layperson who is occasionally therapist-guided , I found this to be a very thorough collection of actionable information for those seeking to build a reality founded on healthy and reasonable thoughts and actions.
Thank you for your efforts. I am a psychiatrist practicing CBT in addition to psychopharmacology.
This article has made CBT very simple and easy to practice. Most of the concepts were given with practical examples. Using distraction techniques before starting the questioning is very useful.
Activity scheduling is another one useful for depressive persons. I include them also in CBT. Your email address will not be published. Courtney E.