Behavioural Experiment OCD Worksheet

What is the theory behind this Behavioural Experiment OCD Worksheet?

Behavioural Experiment is a technique used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to test one’s new or old beliefs and assumptions about the self, others and the world in general. It allows individuals to explore how harmful their maladaptive beliefs are and what positive outcomes can come out of replacing them with helpful beliefs. 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by recurrent intrusive thoughts that are followed by neutralising ritualistic behaviours. These behaviours  are a type of ‘safety behaviours’ i.e they are done to prevent something bad from happening. The chances of that bad event happening can be tested using Behavioural Experiments 

How will the worksheet help?

The worksheet will provide a behaviour experiment log that clients with OCD can use to test the outcome of their negative intrusive thoughts and beliefs. It will require them to test the likelihood of their beliefs actually coming true in the real world. When they realise their beliefs and the following compulsions do not actually cause any harm the intensity of their obsessions may decrease with successive experimentations. 

How to use the worksheet?

Instruct the client to write the belief or thought that they are targeting and mention the percentage they believe in it. Then they have to write the specifics of how they intend to carry out this experiment for e.g by exposing themselves to triggers and making efforts to avoid following the beliefs with compulsions. They have to write what they think might happen and then compare that with what actually happened. Then they have to write their reflections on the outcome. 

Behavioural Experiment OCD Worksheet

Target Belief
Write down the negative belief or intrusive thought that compels you to perform ritualistic behaviours. This is the belief you will be testing in this experiment. 
Mention the percentage you believe in it. 
Design the experiment
Mention all the specifics of how you intend to test and observe that this belief is actually true or not? How will you stop yourself from engaging in your safety behaviours? What strategies do you have in mind?
Predict what will happen
How do you expect yourself to behave when confronted with the target belief or intrusive thought?
What actually happened? How was your behaviour different or similar from your prediction? What facts have you collected regarding the situation?
What have you learned about this belief from this experiment? What percentage do you believe in it now? How can you replace that belief with a new one?


J. Bennett-Levy,G. Butler, M. Fennell, A. Hackman, M. Mueller, & D. Westbrook (Eds.) (2004) Oxford guide to behavioural experiments in cognitive therapy. Oxford University Press.

You can download this worksheet here.

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