Steps To Challenge Automatic Negative Thoughts Worksheet

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What is the theory behind the worksheet?

This worksheet is based on a CBT approach, whose goal is to help clients identify and challenge their irrational and negative thoughts in order to achieve a higher level of mental well-being (Beck, 1995).

How will the worksheet help

This worksheet will help clients identify the automatic negative thoughts that might appear in certain situations in order to challenge them, and replace them with healthier and more rational ones.

How to use the worksheet

Automatic thoughts, as perturbing as they can be, can be challenged by replacing them with rational thoughts. Use the following worksheet to do so.

In the first column, write down your automatic thoughts when you have them. After that, rate how much you believe that each thought is true (1 being “I understand that this thought is not true” and 10 being “I strongly believe this thought is true). Then, use the third column to write down what type of automatic thought this is (e.g., fortune telling, “should” statements etc.).

Using the fourth column, based on your understanding of how your automatic thoughts can be distorted, write a realistic or rational thought to replace the irrational one (e.g., if you think “My husband is late this evening, he must be cheating on me”, then the rational thought could be “My husband could be working until late today, I should call him to see if he is on his way”).

Finally, use the fifth column to rate how much you believe in this replacement thought, 1 being “I know this is the rational way of thinking, but I don’t really believe it” and 10 being  “I strongly believe that this is true”.

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