Challenging negative thoughts worksheet

What is the theory behind this Challenging negative thoughts worksheet?

Challenging negative thoughts is an important technique in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). There are certain automatic negative thought patterns that greatly affect clients’ views about themselves and the world around them. It is important to identify such thoughts so that an effort can be made to replace them with helpful alternatives.

How will the worksheet help?

The worksheet will help clients in reframing their thought process. It will give them a chance to pause and analyze the negative automatic thoughts so that they can consider helpful alternatives. Doing so will enable them to have adaptive emotional and behavioral outcomes.

How to use the worksheet?

The clients can begin by listing an event or situation that has recently triggered negative emotions. Then, they can note the automatic negative thoughts and analyze them by listing down supporting and contradictory evidence. Once they complete a thorough analysis, they will have an  objective, more balanced view of the situation.

Challenging negative thoughts worksheet

Sometimes we feel and act based on negative thoughts. One way to counter them is to hold them accountable so that other healthier and realistic alternatives can be considered.

Instructions:  Work through the table from the left to the right.  An example has been provided for better understanding.

What made me anxious?Immediate negative thoughtEvidence supporting the thoughtEvidence contradicting the thoughtAlternative thought(Can I look at the situation differently?)
Example:Arriving late to my office meeting     
 I am a failure at whatever I do  I could not submit my marketing presentation on time I have been late to meetings a few times. I received a hardworking employee badge last month

I am on time for most meetings
  I am a diligent employee, but sometimes I fall short. It can be disappointing, but it does not make me a failure.


Beck, J. S. (2011). CBT Basics and Beyond (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.

Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive Therapy of Depression. The Guilford Press.

You can download this worksheet here.

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