Identifying automatic thoughts worksheet

What is the theory behind the worksheet?

This worksheet is based on a CBT approach, whose goal is to identify irrational and negative automatic thoughts that lead to a wide range of psychological issues (Beck, 1995).

How will this worksheet help

This worksheet will encourage clients to identify their own automatic thoughts by providing descriptions of how they form and by categorizing them?

How to use the worksheet

It is widely known that people who have certain types of automatic thoughts that distort their view of themselves and the world around them struggle with negative self-talk, which itself is associated with a wide range of clinical problems, such as depression, anxiety, stress disorders, and eating disorders. 

These negative automatic thoughts are irrational, not being based on any facts, although people who suffer from psychological problems perceive them as if they were true. In order to overcome your problems, you must first recognize your irrational automatic thoughts and then replace them with rational ones (Sease et al., 2021).

  Go through the following list and see if you can think of situations when you have these types of thoughts. Which types of automatic thoughts do you think you experience the most?

Identifying automatic thoughts worksheet

●  Disqualifying the positive – You insist that your positive qualities or achievements “don’t really count”.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Mind reading – You assume that people perceive you in a negative light when there is no real evidence for this.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Fortune telling – You are sure that things will turn out bad, based on your instinct.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Using “should” statements – You criticize yourself or others by using words such as “should”/”shouldn’t”, “must” and “oughts”.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Labeling – You see your shortcomings as your identity, so instead of saying “I made a mistake”, you tell yourself “I am a loser, a fool” etc.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Catastrophic thinking – You imagine the worst possible thing could happen in a given situation even though there is no real evidence that this might happen.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Emotional Reasoning – You make judgements based on your emotions rather than evidence. For example, you might think someone is disappointed in you although there is no evidence for this.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

●  Magnification and Minimization – You blow negative possibilities out of proportion and you minimize the importance of positive interactions or events.

Example: ______________________________________________________________

‌You can download this worksheet here.

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Beck, J. S. (1995). Cognitive therapy: Basics and beyond. New York: Guilford press.


Sease, T. B., Perkins, D. R., Sandoz, E. K., & Sudduth, H. (2021). Automatic thoughts: Understanding the precursors of self-concealment within the psychological flexibility framework. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 22, 68–73.