25 CBT Techniques and Worksheets for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

25 CBT Techniques and Worksheets for Cognitive Behavioral TherapyEven if you’re relatively unfamiliar with psychology, chances are you’ve heard of cognitive behavioral therapy, commonly known as CBT. It’s an extremely common type of talk therapy practiced around the world.

If you’ve ever interacted with a mental health therapist, a counselor, or a psychiatry clinician in a professional setting, it’s likely you’ve participated in CBT. If you’ve ever heard friends or loved ones talk about how a mental health professional helped them identify unhelpful thoughts and patterns and behavior and alter them to more effectively work towards their goals, you’ve heard about the impacts of CBT.

CBT is one of the most frequently used tools in the psychologist’s toolbox. Though it’s based on simple principles, it can have wildly positive outcomes when put into practice.

In this article, we’ll explore what CBT is, how it works, and how you can apply its principles to improve your own life or the lives of your clients.

Before you start reading this article, we recommend you download these three positive CBT exercises for free. With these exercises, you will not just be able to understand positive CBT on a theoretical level, but you’ll also have the tools to apply it in your work with clients or students.

You can download the PDF for free on this page: https://bit.ly/2VmfP5r

 

 

What is CBT?

“This simple idea is that our unique patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving are significant factors in our experiences, both good and bad. Since these patterns have such a significant impact on our experiences, it follows that altering these patterns can change our experiences” (Martin, 2016).

Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change our thought patterns, our conscious and unconscious beliefs, our attitudes, and, ultimately, our behavior, in order to help us face difficulties and achieve our goals.

Psychiatrist Aaron Beck was the first to practice cognitive behavioral therapy. Like most mental health professionals at the time, Beck was a psychoanalysis practitioner.

While practicing psychoanalysis, Beck noticed the prevalence of internal dialogue in his clients and realized how strong the link between thoughts and feelings can be. He altered the therapy he practiced in order to help his clients identify, understand, and deal with the automatic, emotion-filled thoughts that regularly arose in his clients.

Beck found that a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral techniques produced the best results for his clients. In describing and honing this new therapy, Beck laid the foundations of the most popular and influential form of therapy of the last 50 years.what is cbt therapist and client working together

This form of therapy is not designed for lifelong participation and aims to help clients meet their goals in the near future. Most CBT treatment regimens last from five to ten months, with clients participating in one 50- to 60-minute session per week.

CBT is a hands-on approach that requires both the therapist and the client to be invested in the process and willing to actively participate. The therapist and client work together as a team to identify the problems the client is facing, come up with strategies for addressing them, and creating positive solutions (Martin, 2016).

 

Cognitive Distortions

Many of the most popular and effective cognitive behavioral therapy techniques are applied to what psychologists call “cognitive distortions,” inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thought patterns or emotions (Grohol, 2016).

There are 15 main cognitive distortions that can plague even the most balanced thinkers.

1. Filtering

Filtering refers to the way a person can ignore all of the positive and good things in life to focus solely on the negative. It’s the trap of dwelling on a single negative aspect a situation, even when surrounded by an abundance of good things.

2. Polarized Thinking / Black-and-White Thinking

This cognitive distortion is all-or-nothing thinking, with no room for complexity or nuance—everything’s either black or white, never shades of gray. If you don’t perform perfectly in some area, then you may see yourself as a total failure instead of simply recognizing that you may be unskilled in one area.

3. Overgeneralization

Overgeneralization is taking a single incident or point in time and using it as the sole piece of evidence for a broad conclusion. For example, someone who overgeneralizes could bomb an important job interview and instead of brushing it off as one bad experience and trying again, they conclude that they are terrible at interviewing and will never get a job offer.

4. Jumping to Conclusions

Similar to overgeneralization, this distortion involves faulty reasoning in how one makes conclusions. Unlike overgeneralizing one incident, jumping to conclusions refers to the tendency to be sure of something without any evidence at all. For example, we might be convinced that someone dislikes us without having any real evidence, or we might believe that our fears will come true before we have a chance to really find out.

5. Catastrophizing / Magnifying or Minimizing

This distortion involves expecting that the worst will happen or has happened, based on an incident that is nowhere near as catastrophic as it is made out to be. For example, you may make a small mistake at work and be convinced that it will ruin the project you are working on, that your boss will be furious, and that you’ll lose your job. Alternatively, one might minimize the importance of positive things, such as an accomplishment at work or a desirable personal characteristic.

6. Personalization

This is a distortion where an individual believes that everything they do has an impact on external events or other people, no matter how irrational that may be. A person with this distortion will feel that he or she has an exaggerated role in the bad things that happen around them. For instance, a person may believe that arriving a few minutes late to a meeting led to it being derailed and that everything would have been fine if they were on time.

7. Control Fallacies

This distortion involves feeling like everything that happens to you is either a result of purely external forces or entirely due to your own actions. Sometimes what happens to us is due to forces we can’t control, and sometimes what it’s due to our own actions, but the distortion is assuming that it is always one or the other. We might assume that difficult coworkers are to blame for our own less-than-stellar work, or alternatively assume that every mistake another person makes is because of something we did.

Cognitive Distortions

8. Fallacy of Fairness

We are often concerned about fairness, but this concern can be taken to extremes. As we all know, life is not always fair. The person who goes through life looking for fairness in all their experiences will end up resentful and unhappy. Sometimes things will go our way, and sometimes they will not, regardless of how fair it may seem.

9. Blaming

When things don’t go our way, there are many ways we can explain or assign responsibility for the outcome. One method of assigning responsibility is blaming others for what goes wrong. Sometimes we may blame others for making us feel or act a certain way, but this is a cognitive distortion. Only you are responsible for the way you feel or act.

10. “Shoulds”

“Shoulds” refer to the implicit or explicit rules we have about how we and others should behave. When others break our rules, we are upset. When we break our own rules, we feel guilty. For example, we may have an unofficial rule that customer service representatives should always be accommodating to the customer. When we interact with a customer service representative that is not immediately accommodating, we might get angry. If we have an implicit rule that we are irresponsible if we spend money on unnecessary things, we may feel exceedingly guilty when we spend even a small amount of money on something we don’t need.

11. Emotional Reasoning

This distortion involves thinking that if we feel a certain way, it must be true. For example, if we feel unattractive or uninteresting in the current moment, we think we are unattractive or uninteresting. This cognitive distortion boils down to:

“I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

Clearly, our emotions are not always indicative of the objective truth, but it can be difficult to look past how we feel.

12. Fallacy of Change

The fallacy of change lies in expecting other people to change as it suits us. This ties into the feeling that our happiness depends on other people, and their unwillingness or inability to change, even if we demand it, keeps us from being happy. This is a damaging way to think because no one is responsible for our own happiness except ourselves.

13. Global Labeling / Mislabeling

This cognitive distortion is an extreme form of generalizing, in which we generalize one or two instances or qualities into a global judgment. For example, if we fail at a specific task, we may conclude that we are a total failure in not only that area but all areas. Alternatively, when a stranger says something a bit rude, we may conclude that he or she is an unfriendly person in general. Mislabeling is specific to using exaggerated and emotionally loaded language, such as saying a woman has abandoned her children when she leaves her children with a babysitter to enjoy a night out.

14. Always Being Right

While we all enjoy being right, this distortion makes us think we must be right, that being wrong is unacceptable. We may believe that being right is more important than the feelings of others, being able to admit when we’ve made a mistake or being fair and objective.

15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

This distortion involves expecting that any sacrifice or self-denial will pay off. We may consider this karma, and expect that karma will always immediately reward us for our good deeds. This results in feelings of bitterness when we do not receive our reward (Grohol, 2016).

Many tools and techniques found in cognitive behavioral therapy are intended to address or reverse these cognitive distortions.

15 cognitive distortions cbt

You can download the printable version of the infographic here.

 

9 Essential CBT Techniques and Tools

There are many tools and techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy, many of which can be used in both a therapy context and in everyday life. The nine techniques and tools listed below are some of the most common and effective CBT practices.

Journaling

This technique is a way to gather about one’s moods and thoughts. A CBT journal can include the time of the mood or thought, the source of it, the extent or intensity, and how we reacted, among other factors. ThisEssential CBT Techniques and Tools technique can help us to identify our thought patterns and emotional tendencies, describe them, and change, adapt, or cope with them.

Unraveling Cognitive Distortions

This is a primary goal of CBT and can be practiced with or without the help of a therapist. In order to unravel cognitive distortions, you must first become aware of the distortions from which you commonly suffer. Part of this involves identifying and challenging harmful automatic thoughts, which frequently fall into one of the 15 categories listed earlier.

Cognitive Restructuring

Once you identify the distortions you hold, you can begin to explore how those distortions took root and why you came to believe them. When you discover a belief that is destructive or harmful, you can begin to challenge it.

For example, if you believe that you must have a high-paying job to be a respectable person, but you’re then laid off from your high-paying job, you will begin to feel bad about yourself. Instead of accepting this faulty belief that leads you to think negative thoughts about yourself, you could take an opportunity to think about what really makes a person “respectable,” a belief you may not have explicitly considered before.

Exposure and Response Prevention

This technique is specifically effective for those who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). You can practice this technique by exposing yourself to whatever it is that normally elicits a compulsive behavior, but doing your best to refrain from the behavior. You can combine journaling with this technique, or use journaling to understand how this technique makes you feel.

Interoceptive Exposure

This technique is intended to treat panic and anxiety. It involves exposure to feared bodily sensations in order to elicit the response. Doing so activates any unhelpful beliefs associated with the sensations, maintains the sensations without distraction or avoidance, and allows new learning about the sensations to take place. It is intended to help the sufferer see that symptoms of panic are not dangerous, although they may be uncomfortable.

Nightmare Exposure and Rescripting

Nightmare exposure and rescripting are intended specifically for those suffering from nightmares. This technique is similar to interoceptive exposure, in that the nightmare is elicited, which brings up the relevant emotion. Once the emotion has arisen, the client and therapist work together to identify the desired emotion and develop a new image to accompany the desired emotion.

Play the Script Until the End

This technique is especially useful for those suffering from fear and anxiety. In this technique, the individual who is vulnerable to crippling fear or anxiety conducts a sort of thought experiment in which they imagine the outcome of the worst case scenario. Letting this scenario play out can help the individual to recognize that even if everything he or she fears comes to pass, the outcome will still be manageable.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This is a familiar technique to those who practice mindfulness. Similar to the body scan, this technique instructs you to relax one muscle group at a time until your whole body is in a state of Essential CBT Techniques and Toolsrelaxation. You can use audio guidance, a YouTube video, or simply your own mind to practice this technique, and it can be especially helpful for calming nerves and soothing a busy and unfocused mind.

Relaxed Breathing

This is another technique that will be familiar to practitioners of mindfulness. There are many ways to relax and bring regularity to your breath, including guided and unguided imagery, audio recordings, YouTube videos, and scripts. Bringing regularity and calm to your breath will allow you to approach your problems from a place of balance, facilitating more effective and rational decisions (Megan, 2016).

These techniques can help those suffering from a range of mental illnesses and afflictions, including anxiety, depression, OCD, and panic disorder, and they can be practiced with or without the guidance of a therapist. To try some of these techniques without the help of a therapist, see the next section for worksheets and handouts to assist with your practice.

9 Essential CBT Techniques and Tools infographic

You can download the printable version of the infographic here.

 

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Worksheets (PDFs) To Print and Use

If you’re a therapist looking for ways to guide your client through treatment or a hands-on person who loves to learn by doing, there are many cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets that can help.

Coping Styles Worksheet

This PDF Coping Styles Formulation Worksheet instructs you or your client to first list any current perceived problems or difficulties – “The Problem“. You or your client will work backwards to list risk factors above (i.e., why you are more likely to experience these problems than someone else) and triggers or events (i.e., the stimulus or source of these problems).

Once you have defined the problems and understand why you are struggling with them, you then list coping strategies. These are not solutions to your problems, but ways to deal with the effects of those problems that can have a temporary impact. Next, you list the effectiveness of the coping strategies, such as how they make you feel in the short- and long-term, and the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy.

Finally, you move on to listing alternative actions. If your coping strategies are not totally effective against the problems and difficulties that are happening, you are instructed to list other strategies that may work better.

This worksheet gets you (or your client) thinking about what you are doing now and whether it is the best way forward.  

ABC Functional Analysis

One popular technique in CBT is ABC functional analysis. This technique helps you (or the client) learn about yourself, specifically, what leads to specific behaviors and what consequences result from those behaviors.

In the middle of the worksheet is a box labeled “Behaviors.” In this box, you write down any potentially problematic behaviors you want to analyze.

On the left side of the worksheet is a box labeled “Antecedents,” in which you or the client write down the factors that preceded a particular behavior. These are factors that led up to the behavior under consideration, either directly or indirectly.

On the right side is the final box, labeled “Consequences.” This is where you write down what happened as a result of the behavior under consideration. “Consequences” may sound inherently negative, but that’s not necessarily the case; some positive consequences can arise from many types of behaviors, even if the same behavior also leads to negative consequences.

This ABC Functional Analysis Worksheet can help you or your client to find out whether particular behaviors are adaptive and helpful in striving toward your goals, or destructive and self-defeating.

Case Formulation Worksheet

In CBT, there are 4 “P’s” in Case Formulation:

  • Predisposing factors;
  • Precipitating factors;
  • Perpetuating factors; and
  • Protective factors

 

They help us understand what might be leading a perceived problem to arise, and what might prevent them from being tackled effectively.

In this worksheet, a therapist will work with their client through 4 steps.

First, they identify predisposing factors, which are those external or internal and can add to the likelihood of someone developing a perceived problem (“The Problem“). Examples might include genetics, life events, or their temperament.

Together, they collaborate to identify precipitating factors, which provide insight into precise events or triggers that lead to “The Problem” presenting itself. Then they consider perpetuating factors, to discover what reinforcers may be maintaining the current problem.

Last, they identify protective factors, to understand the client’s strengths, social supports, and adaptive behavioral patterns.

Download this Case Formulation Worksheet as a PDF here.

Extended Case Formulation Worksheet

This worksheet builds on the last. It helps you or your client address the “Four P Factors” described just above—predisposing, precipitating, perpetuating, and protective factors. This formulation process can help you or your client connect the dots between core beliefs, thought patterns, and present behavior.

This worksheet presents six boxes on the left of the page (Part A), which should be completed before moving on to the right hand side of the worksheet (Part B).

  1. The first box is labeled “The Problem,” and corresponds with the perceived difficulty that your client is experiencing. In this box, you are instructed to write down the events or stimuli that are linked to a certain behavior.
  2. The next box is labeled “Early Experiences” and corresponds to the predisposing factor. This is where you list the experiences that you had early in life that may have contributed to the behavior.
  3. The third box is “Core Beliefs,” which is also related to the predisposing factor. This is where you write down some relevant core beliefs you have regarding this behavior. These are beliefs that may not be explicit, but that you believe deep down, such as “I’m bad” or “I’m not good enough.”
  4. The fourth box is “Conditional assumptions/rules/attitudes,” which is where you list the rules that you adhere to, whether consciously or subconsciously. These implicit or explicit rules can perpetuate the behavior, even if it is not helpful or adaptive. Rules are if-then statements that provide a judgment based on a set of circumstances. For instance, you may have the rule “If I do not do something perfectly, I’m a complete failure.”
  5. The fifth box is labeled “Maladaptive Coping Strategies” This is where you write down how well these rules are working for you (or not). Are they helping you to be the best you can be? Are they helping you to effectively strive towards your goals?
  6. Finally, the last box us titled “Positives.” This is where you list the factors that can help you deal with the problematic behavior or thought, and perhaps help you break the perpetuating cycle. These can be things that help you cope once the thought or behavior arises or things that can disrupt the pattern once it is in motion.

     

On the right, there is a flow chart that you can fill out based on how these behaviors and feelings are perpetuated. You are instructed to think of a situation that produces a negative automatic thought and record the emotion and behavior that this thought provokes, as well as the bodily sensations that can result. Filling out this flow chart can help you see what drives your behavior or thought and what results from it.

Download our PDF Extended Case Formulation Worksheet

Dysfunctional Thought Record

This worksheet is especially helpful for people who struggle with negative thoughts and need to figure out when and why those thoughts are most likely to pop up. Learning more about what provokes certain automatic thoughts makes them easier to address and reverse.

The worksheet is divided into seven columns:

  1. On the far left, there is space to write down the date and time a dysfunctional thought arose.
  2. The second column is where the situation is listed. The user is instructed to describe the event that led up to the dysfunctional thought in detail.
  3. The third column is for the automatic thought. This is where the dysfunctional automatic thought is recorded, along with a rating of belief in the thought on a scale from 0% to 100%.
  4. The next column is where the emotion or emotions elicited by this thought are listed, also with a rating of intensity on a scale from 0% to 100%.
  5. Use this fifth column to note the dysfunctional thought that will be addressed. Example maladaptive thoughts include distortions such as over-inflating the negative while dismissing the positive of a situation, or overgeneralizing. Use our Cognitive Distortions infographic above to help you.
  6. The second-to-last column is for the user to write down alternative thoughts that are more positive and functional to replace the negative one.
  7. Finally, the last column is for the user to write down the outcome of this exercise. Were you able to confront the dysfunctional thought? Did you write down a convincing alternative thought? Did your belief in the thought and/or the intensity of your emotion(s) decrease?

 

Download this Dysfunctional Thought Record as a PDF.

Fact Checking

One of my favorite CBT tools is this Fact Checking Thoughts Worksheet because it can be extremely helpful in recognizing that your thoughts are not necessarily true.

At the top of this worksheet is an important lesson:

Thoughts are not facts.

Of course, it can be hard to accept this, especially when we are in the throes of a dysfunctional thought or intense emotion. Filling out this worksheet can help you come to this realization.

The worksheet includes 16 statements that the user must decide are either fact or opinion. These statements include:

  • I’m a bad person.
  • I failed the test.
  • I’m selfish.
  • I didn’t lend my friend money when they asked.

 

This is not a trick—there is a right answer for each of these statements. (In case you’re wondering, the correct answers for the statements above are as follows: opinion, fact, opinion, fact.)

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.

Cognitive Restructuring

This worksheet employs the use of Socratic questioning, a technique that can help the user to challenge irrational or illogical thoughts.

The first page of the worksheet has a thought bubble for “What I’m Thinking”. 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. You may wish to re-write “What I’m Thinking” in the center so it is easier to challenge the thought against these questions.

  • One question asks whether this thought is truly a black-and-white situation, or whether reality leaves room for shades of gray. This is where you think about (and write down) whether you are using all-or-nothing thinking, for example, or making things unreasonably simple when they are complex.
  • Another asks whether you could be misinterpreting the evidence or making any unverified assumptions. As with all the other bubbles, writing it down will make this exercise more effective.
  • A third bubble instructs you to think about whether other people might have different interpretations of the same situation, and what those interpretations might be.
  • Next, ask yourself whether you are looking at all the relevant evidence or just the evidence that backs up the belief you already hold. Try to be as objective as possible.
  • It also helps to ask yourself whether your thought may an over-inflation of a truth. Some negative thoughts are based in truth but extend past their logical boundaries.
  • You’re also instructed to consider whether you are entertaining this negative thought out of habit or because the facts truly support it.
  • Then, think about how this thought came to you. Was it passed on from someone else? If so, is that person a reliable source of truth?
  • Finally, you complete the worksheet by identifying how likely the scenario your thought brings up actually is, and whether it is the worst case scenario.

 

These Socratic questions encourage a deep dive into the thoughts that plague you and offer opportunities to analyze and evaluate those thoughts. 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.

 

Some More CBT Interventions and Exercises

Haven’t had enough CBT tools and techniques yet? Read on for additional useful and effective exercises.

Behavioral Experiments

These are related to thought experiments, in that you engage in a “what if” consideration. Behavioral experiments differ from thought experiments in that you actually test out these “what ifs” outside of your thoughts (Boyes, 2012).

In order to test a thought, you can experiment with the outcomes that different thoughts produce. For example, you can test the thoughts:

“If I criticize myself, I will be motivated to work harder” versus “If I am kind to myself, I will be motivated to work harder.”

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

Thought records are useful in testing the validity of your thoughts (Boyes, 2012). 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.

For example, you may have the belief “My friend thinks I’m a bad friend.” You would think of all the evidence for this belief, such as “She didn’t answer the phone the last time I called,” or “She canceled our plans at the last minute,” and evidence against this belief, like “She called me back after not answering the phone,” and “She invited me to her barbecue next week. If she thought I was a bad friend, she probably wouldn’t have invited me.”

Once you have evidence for and against, the goal is to come up with more balanced thoughts, such as, “My friend is busy and has other friends, so she can’t always answer the phone when I call. 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, 2012).

Here’s a helpful Thought Record Worksheet to download.

Pleasant Activity Scheduling

This technique can be especially helpful for dealing with depression (Boyes, 2012). 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.e., eating a whole cake in one sitting or smoking).

You can also try scheduling an activity for each day that provides you with a sense of mastery or accomplishment (Boyes, 2012). It’s great to do something pleasant, but doing something small that can make you feel accomplished may have more long-lasting and far-reaching effects.

This simple technique can introduce more positivity into your life, and our Pleasant Activity Scheduling Worksheet is designed to help.

Imagery-Based Exposure

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.g., to run away, to yell at your significant other, or to cry).

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, 2012). 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.

Graded Exposure Worksheet

Situation Exposure Hierarchies CBT Interventions and Exercises

This technique may sound complicated, but it’s relatively simple.

Making a situation exposure hierarchy involves means listing situations that you would normally avoid (Boyes, 2012). 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. It’s often advised to start with the least distressing items and work your way up to the most distressing items.

Download our Graded Exposure Worksheet here.

 

A CBT Manual and Workbook for Your Own Practice and for Your Client

If you’re interested in giving CBT a try with your clients, there are many books and manuals that can help get you started. 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:

  • A Therapist’s Guide to Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by Jeffrey A. Cully and Andra L. Teten (PDF here);
  • Individual Therapy Manual for Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Depression by Ricardo F. Munoz and Jeanne Miranda (PDF here);
  • Provider’s Guidebook: “Activities and Your Mood” by Community Partners in Care (PDF here);
  • Treatment Manual for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression by Jeannette Rosselló, Guillermo Bernal, and the Institute for Psychological Research (PDF here).

 

Here are some of the most popular workbooks and manuals for clients to use alone or with a therapist:

  • The CBT Toolbox: A Workbook for Clients and Clinicians by Jeff Riggenbach (Amazon);
  • Client’s Guidebook: “Activities and Your Mood” by Community Partners in Care (PDF here);
  • The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-by-Step Program by William J. Knaus and Jon Carlson (Amazon);
  • The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program by William J. Knaus and Albert Ellis (Amazon);
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook by Barry Gregory (Amazon).

 

There are many other manuals and workbooks available that can help get you started with CBT, but the tools above are a good start.

 

5 Final Cognitive Behavioral Activities

Before we go, there are a few more CBT activities and exercises that may be helpful for you or your clients that we’d like to cover.

Mindfulness Meditation

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 Cognitive Behavioral Activitiesthoughts to disengage from rumination and obsession by helping them stay firmly grounded in the present.

Successive Approximation

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.

Writing Self-Statements to Counteract Negative Thoughts

This technique can be difficult for someone who’s new to CBT treatment or suffering from severe symptoms, but it can also be extremely effective (Anderson, 2014).

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.

For example, if the thought “I am worthless” keeps popping into your head, try writing down a statement like “I am a person with worth,” or “I am a person with potential.” In the beginning, it can be difficult to accept these replacement thoughts, but the more you bring out these positive thoughts to counteract the negative ones, the stronger the association will be.

Visualize the Best Parts of Your Day

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, 2014).

All you need to do is write down the things in your life that you are thankful for or the most positive events that happen in a given day. 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.

Reframe Your Negative Thoughts

It can be easy to succumb to negative thoughts as a default setting. If you find yourself immediately thinking a negative thought when you see something new, such as entering an unfamiliar room and thinking “I hate the color of that wall,” give reframing a try (Anderson, 2014).

Reframing involves countering the negative thought(s) by noticing things you feel positive about as quickly as possible. 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.g., the carpet looks comfortable, the lampshade is pretty, the windows let in a lot of sunshine).

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.

5 cognitive behavioral activities

You can download the printable version of the infographic here.

 

A Take-Home Message

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:

  • USA: National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255;
  • UK: Samaritans hotline at 116 123;
  • The Netherlands: Netherlands Suicide Hotline at 09000767;
  • France: Suicide écoute at 01 45 39 40 00;
  • Germany: Telefonseelsorge at 0800 111 0 111 for Protestants, 0800 111 0 222 for Catholics, and 0800 111 0 333 for children and youth.

 

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. If you’ve tried it, how did it work for you? Are there any other helpful exercises or techniques that we did not touch on in this piece? We’d love to know your thoughts.

 

  • Anderson, J. (2014, June 12). 5 get-positive techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy. Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression-living-well/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-techniques/
  • Boyes, A. (2012, December 6). Cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that work: Mix and match cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to fit your preferences. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201212/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-techniques-work
  • Davis, R. (2019, March 6). The complete list of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. Retrieved from https://www.infocounselling.com/list-of-cbt-techniques/
  • Grohol, J. (2016). 15 common cognitive distortions. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/15-common-cognitive-distortions/
  • Martin, B. (2016). In-Depth: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/
  • Pathak, N. (ed.). (2018). Does cognitive behavioral therapy treat depression? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/g00/depression/guide/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-for-depression?i10c.ua=1&i10c.encReferrer=&i10c.dv=16#1
  • Psychology Tools (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytools.com/
  • Therapist Aid (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.therapistaid.com/

About the Author

Courtney Ackerman is a graduate of the positive organizational psychology and evaluation program at Claremont Graduate University. 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. When she’s not gleefully crafting survey reminders, she loves spending time with her dogs, visiting wine country, and curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book or video game.

Comments

  1. Lebogang Lockwood

    I am doing a course in CBT and have found the module in building blocks of treatment a bit challenging. Any more information that I can read on? Thanks

    Reply
  2. Syed Muzaffar Hussain,

    I want to work out with you on treatment of depression with CBT in Pakistan. It can be in Urdu language and a great contribution from you and me in existing literature.

    Reply
  3. Seph Fontane Pennock

    Update May 31th 2019: we have now added a lot of complimentary worksheets to this piece for you to download, print, and use in your coaching or teaching practice. Please enjoy!

    Reply
  4. Jennifer

    Hi Courtney… are the “coming soon” handouts mentioned in the above article available?

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Hi Jennifer, all the worksheets have now been added to this piece. Enjoy!

      Reply
  5. Denis

    Wow! What an enriching read! This is helping me.

    Reply
  6. Theresa Webster

    Thank you for the CBT techniques

    Reply
  7. Rahel Yimam

    this is so helpful. Thanks for the information!

    Reply
  8. Charles Silva

    Crazy thing is that I have worked in the mental health field for over 12 years and I have never being willing to work on myself. I have dealt with my anxiety many different ways except for therapy, but now I am finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. I went to a training the other day and for the first time I completed the ACE questionnaire. Once I saw my score, I definitely realized I might have some underlying issues that I have been avoiding all my life. Thanks for the information.

    Reply
  9. Ouma Sreekeessoon

    Working on a Youth Counselling training, I found this article very insightful. Thank you for your initiative.

    Reply
  10. Arbab faraz

    Very impressive and excellent article dear.
    Much appreciated 👍🏻

    Reply
  11. Pam

    I am not a therapist but was looking for some ideas to try on my own. My husband is currently doing cbt with a therapist ethos ard your article is amazing. It gives me a lot of insight into what he is doing, as well as I saw myself in a few of the behaviours that I would like to try and not do anymore. One of the most informative and helpful articles I have read. Thank you so much for taking your time to write this, I appreciate it and am hopeful this can help a lot of people.

    Reply
  12. Solomon mwadzodzera

    nice mam

    Reply
  13. Charmaine

    excellent !!!!!!!!! thanking you with appreciation

    Reply
  14. kejal jasani

    excellent ,super article

    Reply
  15. Ross

    Thank you for all the effort and time that you took to write this article. It is well written and very informative and I think it’s helpful too. Thank you for the great content.

    Reply
  16. sally

    This is such an informative article, and I want to thank you for your hard work and for all the resources that you provide!

    Reply
  17. Fawn C Adams

    This is great information. We all have dysfunctional views in life it is great to be able to figure them out and then work on them. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  18. R Martin

    So kind of you to share this. It’s a fantastic resource and so glad to see so many people enjoying and using it.

    Reply
  19. Bozorgmanesh Robert Sohrabi

    C.B.T since the failure of many lives was based on my trans humane loss of gravity with the forsaken religious intolerance of the Museum of Natural History collapsed by Civilizations’ Discontent, the discontinue cognito by all sources of plagerism has showed to be most futile. As the courses of humanities are not in my jurist failure, my brains’ disclosure from the most tragic comedies between good, bad, and evil have been very contrstraining on my biofactors against the worst doctrines against the late Dr. Ralph Bunch’s memorial funds.

    Reply
  20. K.F.

    This website gave me more direction in 15 minutes than ten years of off-and-on weekly therapy appointments did. Here I found a list of practical actions to take versus just talking about my problems. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  21. nandi

    I wanted to know more about CBT when I came across this site. This has been extremely helpful. Thank you

    Reply
  22. David. K

    I am so happy I found this site, such a great presentation of CBT. Very informative and reads very well. Useful tips to further aid my own practice as well as self-growth.

    Reply
  23. Teri Bee

    Excellent article. Very useful information. You put a lot of time and effort into this article. Much appreciated.

    Reply
  24. Hillary

    You should summarize it ..its to big to read and also put a test link what is about this descriptions they are so long who is going to read it?

    Reply
  25. Clara

    This article has completely restored my faith in CBT. I have really bad anxiety and panic issues so have had CBT a couple of times and was underwhelmed. I thought it had very limited scope. This is just such a well structured and comprehensive overview though. I feel I understand it a lot better now. I love that there’s such a range of tools and techniques available so you can focus on one, maybe move onto something else if it doesn’t help, or mix things up! I’m really looking forward to trying these out. Thank you.
    How do we access the PDFs you mention?

    Reply
  26. Carolyn B Morey

    How soon will the worksheets be available for download?

    Reply
  27. Muhammad Sulaiman

    I have an emotional problem I.e whenever I sees injuries and damage patients I feel as if it is in my body

    Reply
  28. Muhammad Sulaiman

    I am having an emotional problem I.e whenever I sees injuries and damage patients,I feel like it is in my body.

    Reply
  29. Brendon Feole

    I made an interactive excel worksheet that can be used daily to track trends in how your daily activities affect your quality of life so it’s a lot easier to see what you should be doing with your time.
    *http://feoletech.com/dailympv

    Reply
  30. Carol

    Excellent and well-organized information. Hugely thankful to you on behalf of everyone you are helping through this article. Blessings!

    Reply
  31. Chase

    I hear you say that if you are responsible for your thoughts and feelings, and you feel depressed, then it’s “all your fault.” No person or thing has to be “at fault”. Blaming any person or thing (yourself included) for your feelings can perpetuate feelings of depression. You are still responsible for your thoughts and feelings so long as you have the power to choose new thoughts. Sometimes people have certain chemical imbalances and decide to take medication that makes it easier to replace negative thought loops with more positive ones. It all falls under personal responsibility. I truly hope this helps answer your question.

    Reply
  32. Leia

    I am pursuing a master’s in school counseling and stumbled on this site while trying to discover resources to fine-tune my CBT skills. I enjoyed reading this post and some of the clarifications and detail it provided. I am interested in the worksheets you described. When might they be available?
    Thank you

    Reply
  33. sylvia Bigelsen

    canI order a booklet that I ca pay for ?

    Reply
  34. L. A.

    Where are these PDF worksheets you talk about?

    Reply
  35. Lynn

    Thank you for all this great information. The “Law of Attraction” is very similar to all that you have talked about. It is so interesting to know both and I am looking forward to learning more about each of them. It does work but it does take you to accept the change and really work at it. I find that if I don’t listen to a YouTube video about being positive after a few days, the negs start creeping back in. This is something you can’t do just once and forget about it….it will be a life style change but everyday, it gets easier. I also keep post it notes up with I am statements and thankful/grateful notes. They are in my kitchen and bathroom…when I read them, it makes me smile and picks me back up. It really does feel good to feel good. Keep smilin’!!!

    Reply
    • Craig Smith

      Hi Lynn, thanks for sharing and continuing the conversation 🙂

      Reply
  36. riskin

    so, if i am responsible for the way I feel and can’t blame anyone or anything, then its all my fault im depressed. Am Ii missing something?

    Reply
    • Patricia

      Hi there
      I just came onto this site out of curiosity and noticed your question. Depression is usually caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, from my understanding CBT can be a useful tool that coincides with medication but it is not meant to cure depression. CBT is used a lot for anxiety because it is our thought patterns that can lead to feeling anxious which in turn leads to behaviour.

      Reply
    • Louis

      You may very well find that others are the cause of your anxiety, depression, or anger, but the reality is that you are powerless to change them. Your only power lies in your reaction to that person or thing which would typically cause negative thinking and reactions. The point is to capture the thought and tread a new path of thinking instead of the same old path which leads only to more personal grief and strife. Personally, when I encounter people who frustrate me, my goal would be to one day confront them about their behavior in such a way that they might listen and genuinely be convinced to change. However, that goal is a long way off, so as a first step toward that goal, I would first need to gain control over my own thoughts in order for me to even broach the subject of said persons behavior. In a nutshell, it’s a process which takes time as no quick fix will truly resolve such matters.

      Reply
    • jeff avis

      No

      Reply
    • Karen

      There may be lots of reasons for why you feel or think how you do, but you can’t change how you got there. You can change your present and your future. You can control how you think and feel rather than letting those past reasons take control.

      Reply
    • sarah

      You are missing something. Biological explanations have mixed evidence, but nevertheless, some biological and environmental influences impact you. Your thought patterns are influenced by them, but this is a tool kit to recognise unhelpful thoughts and correct or re-frame them. Mental health issues are never your own fault, but you can take steps consciously to make sure things don’t stay distressing or get worse.

      Reply
  37. Tori phipps

    I realy needed this years ago and have never had therapy just bad wrong meds but now i am dealing with the loss of my son my only child i am lost and all alone i dont know what kind of therapy i need i was screwed up before and now i am confronting death iam so lost

    Reply
    • Bernadette

      Tori, I’m so very sorry for your loss. Please don’t give up. Keep reaching out. Maybe connecting with a grief group would be of help. You are not alone.

      Reply
    • Patti Paul

      I just have to say that I read your comment and I was so very moved by it. This world isn’t fair or equal or anything like that. Its cruel, unkind, insensitive and all that. But….there is hope honey. There is power in prayer also. Sometimes putting all our eggs in the one basket and leaving it to the one who created us. God bless you sweetheart. Everything is gonna be alright….just let go….let go sweetie……let go {hugs}}

      Reply
    • Shelly Anderson

      Tori, I can not imagine how you are feeling. Please reach out and ask for help. I am on here because I get those all or nothing feelings and it helps me to read through CBT therapy techniques because I know I do all of the wrong things (negative self-talk) to myself. When I read your entry I felt your loss and I wanted to reach out to you and tell you that I feel your pain and I feel you loss. Tori, I am a christian and I do reach out to God but I don’t know if you have God in your life or not – but please ask others for help. Prayers for healing and prayers for strength. From Memphis with love and hope for you!

      Reply
  38. Salime Fattel

    Thank you so much for this, Im do grateful and I’ll give it a try

    Reply
  39. Hamed Heidari

    Hello
    I want to know how I can evaluate the results of the exercises performed by cbd method?
    is there any questionnaire form?
    or checklist?

    Reply
  40. Chahnaz

    Thank you for sharing all this, can you please let me know where to download the cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets.

    Reply
    • Craig Smith

      Hi Chahnaz, the worksheets were recently taken down to be improved and updated.
      They will be up and available again soon. Thanks for your patience!

      Reply
  41. Everardo Cancino

    Thank you so much for this.

    Reply
  42. Ravindra Chougule

    Thanks for the information. Really helpful. I appreciate the the way it is made simple to understand.

    Reply
  43. B_K

    Thank you so much for a detailed overview, this is a really useful and comprehensive guide for so many people struggling with negative thought patters and accompanying unhelpful reactions. Everyone who still doubts if CBT could help – I can say from my experience that it certainly can and possibly will exceed your expectations if you’re willing to put in time and effort.

    Reply
  44. Heidi Morgan

    Really helpful info, thank you. I am trying to help my 16 year old cope during exams and fainting constantly due to stress. Do you know when your worksheets will be available?

    Reply
  45. Sdnr

    Thank you for your great information and sharing all of them.

    Reply
  46. omogina

    Oh my goodness…so good… God bless you!!!

    Reply
  47. Japinder

    Hi Courtney,
    I have been suffering from anxiety from past 20 years. I had taken medication and CBT. Both have helped me. But I have not been able to overcome few emotions like guilt and criticism, which give me undesirable physical symptoms. Could you please help me with kind of techniques which I should exercise ?

    Reply
  48. Alexis Frost

    Thank you for explaining so many Cognitive Behaviour therapy techniques in an insightful and understandable way. I was joyfully surprised by how many practical worksheets and further reading materials you linked in your post and I am most thankful. You have definitely enriched my studies.

    Reply
  49. Sandi

    Thank you for your post. It has helped me start on a path forward.

    Reply
  50. Sunil Anand

    Excellent
    Great Work
    Thanks

    Reply
  51. Gillian Solomon

    Thank you great site

    Reply
  52. sophie ravier

    Thanks for such a comprehensive and hands on material, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  53. mac and pc

    Nice information. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  54. Ilene

    Why can’t I sign up,for the toolkit! It seems that there would be some important info that I can use and I can’t get to the page! Is it deleted?

    Reply
    • Craig Smith

      Hi Ilene, thanks for letting us know! I’ve just checked the link and everything seems to be working on our end.
      Here is a direct link that will take you straight to the toolkit – https://positivepsychologytoolkit.com/join/

      Reply
  55. ddjeab2004

    Thank you for this information . I likes CBT sheets very much.

    Reply
  56. Thomas W Kaufmann

    Great article. Well written and informative. My only suggestion would be to include Canada in your phone list at the end of the article.

    Reply
  57. Crystle Feliciano

    I have a question, I would like to know what steps you take to treat a client with CBT that is depressive, anger, and substance abuse. Do you use CBT on each until it is complete and move to another. Also how do you know what is the best CBT skill for what problem?

    Reply
    • stephanie

      I noticed that the author does not respond to comments and your question is important so I wanted to offer my thoughts on the matter. All three of the symptoms you listed are intertwined, and the thoughts and behaviours associated with each are the same, so you wouldnt necessarily tackle a symptom, you would instead find what thought-pattern is causing that symptom. The negative thoughts you have when youre angry are probably similar to the ones you have when you’re depressed and partaking in overusage of alcohol.
      My advice is to go through the list of thought/behavior patterns in the begginning of the article, find the ones that are most relevant to you, and then try the exercises that are suggested to overcome or change that tought/behavior pattern.
      I am not a licensed psychologist, my advice is based on what I have learned in majoring in psychology in college as well as personal experience and hours of my own research on the topic. It’s best to get advice from a licensed therapist or counselor, but sometimes a regualr person who has had similar experiences may be able to help as well 🙂

      Reply
  58. JFP

    This article is very helpful, i’m just hoping that you can provide the worksheets.
    thanks.

    Reply
  59. Idayat

    Very educative and useful to me as a school counsellor.

    Reply
  60. sd

    Would this be a good avenue for someone with chronic pain? She has suffered for 9 years and has tried many pain remedies and doctors. She is fed up with it all and convinced that nothing will work.

    Reply
  61. Muhammad yaqub

    Good job and useful informations you share

    Reply
  62. Dr Mani Ramana CVS

    It is super information for those who wants to help self and fellow human.

    Reply
  63. Malalai Wardak

    Thank you so much for all this information. It was very helpful to me since I have OCD and depression. I am taking medication but also incorporating cognitive-behavioral therapy in my treatment plan, so all these points helped me tremendously.

    Reply
  64. Marni

    Though this was posted in 2017, there are several points in the article that mention “This worksheet will be available for download soon.” I would love to see them.

    Reply
  65. Tim

    This is fantastic! What an excellent summary of CBT. Thank you for posting this!

    Reply
  66. Bridgette Beal

    This is wonderful! I can’t wait to really take time to read through this! It’s going to help so many people! Thank you.

    Reply
  67. Ruth Martin

    Wow! Excellent work and information. I love the fact that everything is well documented and not a personal opinion.
    Great! I will soon sign up for the toolkit!

    Reply
  68. S.A.

    Thank you for this imformation. When and how can we get the worksheets?

    Reply
  69. Peachy GF

    Where are the worksheets?

    Reply
  70. Colleen

    Courtney –
    Thank you so much for all of this wonderful information. I have a teenager who has seen various therapists over the years for his severe anxiety and thought distortion, but he has been unable to be vulnerable enough with the stranger to really make any progress. I am going to have to try to help him myself, and your info and print-outs will help a great deal.

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Hey Colleen, I’m so happy to hear you found this piece useful! We tried to pack as much helpful information into it as we could.
      I hope your son finds these exercises and techniques easier to implement, and that his success with them eventually encourages him to find someone he can open up to. There’s a ton that we can do on our own, but serious, chronic issues really call for a professional.
      Best of luck!

      Reply
  71. Silver Legend

    Hello, Courtney. I need your advice instantly. A friend of mine is in love with a guy who just uses her and has even tried to kill her. But she does not want to hear anything against him. She has gone blind. Now the guy is going to get married with another girl. My friend said that she would commit suicide if he didn’t accept her. She’s turned completely against her family. What should we do to make her what she used to be in the past all over again? Please help soon.

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Silver, I’m so sorry to hear about the situation your friend is in. I can’t even imagine how frustrated and desperate you must feel trying to reach out to her!
      I strongly encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional to get customized guidance unique to your situation. I do not have a license to treat clients, so I’m afraid I don’t have any specific advice for you, except to show her the unconditional love and acceptance that she needs right now.
      I wish you and your friend the best in navigating this horrible situation, and I hope you can find her the help she needs.

      Reply
      • Silver

        Thank you so much, Courtney for your wishes. I’ll try my best to give her love and sympathy. I will talk to her mother about visiting a mental health professional. Thank you.☺

        Reply
        • Courtney E Ackerman

          You’re welcome, Silver! Best of luck.

          Reply
  72. Grace

    Thanks so much for the incredibly informative article. I suffer from depression and the “negative thoughts” syndrome, and I know I need to do this work so I can find more fulfillment in my life. I tried to print the worksheets but the links don’t work – and I’m ready to tackle this beast!

    Reply
    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      Hi Grace, the worksheets will be available for download soon 🙂

      Reply
  73. Arockiam Singarayar

    It is easy to digest what you have written. I appreciate your skill to present huge matrix into a web of easy-flow-steps.
    But, of course, some techniques like “mindfulness meditation” as a tool does not belong to CBT map. Neverthless, it is a good use of things available for helping a person afflicted with depression (or anxiety/panic attack.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Thanks for the comment, Arockiam! You’re right, mindfulness does not fit within the traditional CBT model, but you could say it is just next door–mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is becoming a more popular choice.
      But regardless, I agree that it doesn’t matter where a technique comes from; if it helps someone deal with depression, anxiety, or any other trouble they’re facing, it’s worth sharing!

      Reply
  74. Rebecca

    I really need some lesson in how to handle situations that are affecting how I respond. I am a veteran with PTSD and have been raped. I was surrounded by VA police once because they thought I was taking photos (accused by employee I had previously reported for negligence) and I began freaking out because of the men. I started seeing my rapist and the situation got out of control while in hand cuffs and in a room about the size of a 6 x 6 room while all of them were talking all at once to me. This whole seen was created by them and once I said I was about to become a lawyer the one officer began bright up and kept at me until I started to cry and beg for him to leave me alone. In AZ the law includes “any unusual noise” for a misconduct charge. They flat out lied on reports and even changed their stories during and after the incident. I need help with skills to handle this situation by staying calm. What can I do? I love in AZ.

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you, Rebecca. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for you to be surrounded by people who reminded you of your rapist.
      Although I encourage you to try any of the techniques listed here, especially mindfulness, I think the best thing you could do for your own well-being is to see a mental health professional. A good therapist or counselor will be able to help you with your PTSD more than I ever could!
      I hope you find someone who can provide you with the suggestions you are looking for, and I wish you nothing but the best in healing and thriving after such an ordeal.

      Reply
  75. Andrea Murphy

    Wow, I have been taking my pre-teen son to therapy for four months, and there is more concrete, helpful information in your article than the tandem counselors have offered in all that time. Now, even if they don’t address some of the issues he is having directly, I feel empowered to discuss and define these issues with him and encourage him in learning how to cope with his anxiety, before the gauntlet of the teenage years exacerbates his negative emotions. Thank You!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      I’m so glad this information was helpful for you and your son! It can certainly take a while to find the right fit in a counselor. It’s great that you took the initiative to fill in the gaps! I wish you and your son the best in continuing your journey to mental health.

      Reply
  76. Beatrice Kamau

    Thank you so much for this article, dealing with Anxiety and Depression due to back to back trauma in my life and having nothing that I can work with has been devastating. I always knew changing my mindset was the key but I did not know how to, your article is amazing, I started inner dialogue; today at work after reading your article,counteracting my negative thoughts with positive thoughts; asking myself if they are facts or opinions, my anxiety level today was way down and I found myself smiling more than I have in a while, thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      That’s wonderful to hear Beatrice! I’m so happy these exercises brought you some peace and relief from your anxiety, and I hope they continue to work well for you. Thanks for letting us know!

      Reply
  77. F. Pipolo

    I have been struggling with mental health for most of my life. Yet, due to my work, I could never work on myself as I move around a lot. 1 year with the same therapist was nowhere near enough for me.
    It defined the outcome of my degree, my daily life, and my relationships. The tools you shared are somehow a personal therapy that I can bring with me wherever I go… I cannot thank you enough for this!
    Hope one day I can shake your hand in person (I am also working in the healthcare system…) we need more people like you, open in sharing the knowledge on the web to make it available for those who cannot afford/access the services! THANK YOU!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      You’re so welcome! I am thrilled to hear that my articles are having a positive impact in the real world and making at least one person’s life a little easier or a little better.
      I totally agree that we need more open access to resources to improve our mental health–as well as more access to the professionals who can guide us through the process!
      Thank you so much for your comment. Best of luck applying these techniques!

      Reply
  78. Jill Gates

    Courtney Ackerman!! This is one of the very best, most clear, & extremely settling information that I have read. I am in the middle of a redefining myself and consequently all of my relationships, including my marriage. In the swirling sea of perspectives and shifting opinions, this information is a TRUE LIFESAVER!!!! Thank you…you don’t even know!!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      I’m thrilled to hear that, Jill! Thank you so much for letting us know this piece had a positive impact on you. My heart just soars when I see comments like yours 🙂
      Best of luck in the redefining process! It can be difficult, but I’m sure it will be well worth the effort.

      Reply
  79. Binod Kumar Deo

    Nice article.Contribution to mental health.

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed it Binod!

      Reply
  80. Jane Pereira

    This was a wonderful article and made me understand why I feel the way I do. Bless you and continue the good work.
    I am scared and alone but I got to fight through it.

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      You’re welcome Jane! I know it’s hard, but know that there are tons of people out there who know what you’re going through. Depression is good at making you feel like you’re alone, but you’re not! Keep fighting the good fight, Jane 🙂

      Reply
    • Jill Gates

      Jane, Thank you for your vulnerability.. I am sorry you feel alone. I am finding great insights and understanding through this article also! May I recommend the book SPARK.. it’s about the brain & EXERCISE our mental health!! Life-changing book!

      Reply
  81. Dave

    This is by far the best article I’ve come across.Its way helpful and has helped me understand and try to cope with the depression am going through. Thank you so much Courtney.

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      You’re welcome, Dave! I’m so happy to hear it helped. Best of luck!

      Reply
  82. Linda

    None of the links work for your worksheets – are you able to correct this?

    Reply
    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      Hi Linda, thanks for your message. I’ve fixed the links 🙂

      Reply
  83. Chris Walker

    Just left my therapist with a programme to follow this week and searched the web for information. Came across your site and found everything I needed in simple terms. Thank you

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      That’s great to hear, Chris! I hope you’re finding these exercises helpful.

      Reply
  84. Momin Wahida Nisar Ahmed

    awesome!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      You’re awesome! 🙂

      Reply
  85. sarah

    I suffer from anxiety and depression. I found this imformation very useful. Want to learn more about cbt. I also want to be an art therapis, anything I can learn to help others is awesome.
    Thank you
    Sarah

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      I’m so happy to hear you found this useful, Sarah! It’s a noble calling to join a helping profession. I hope you succeed in finding a way to use your experience to help others!

      Reply
  86. Dana

    Thank you sooo much for the useful article.
    God bless you 🙏

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      You’re welcome, Dana! I’m thrilled to hear you found it helpful 🙂

      Reply
  87. Sheila

    I have just been introduced to CBT and found this article very helpful. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Hey Sheila, thanks for letting us know you found this piece helpful! I wish you the best of luck in learning more about CBT!

      Reply
  88. Jenn

    I am just beginning my studies to become a mental health counselor. I’m researching CBT for an essay when I came across your article. I’ve just spent the last hour reading, clicking links, downloading resources and saving web pages to my favorites since I started taking in all of this awesome information. Reading about CBT from an eTextbook can be very dry. The way you have taken the same information and laid it out here has been very helpful. I hope you don’t mind, but I would love to quote, cite and reference your writing in my essay. You deserve credit for such good work!

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      That’s so great to hear, Jenn! I realize this is a bit late, but I hope you felt free to cite me. I’m sure your essay came out wonderfully!

      Reply
  89. Brian

    Thank you for this informative article! I read it start to finish so I can better help my own recovery through CBT.

    Reply
  90. Rob

    🙂
    Love your image of “being” in front of your fireplace relaxing and being happy. 🙂

    Reply
  91. Ibrahim Peer Mohamed

    Really very useful for the care providers and care seekers!
    God Bless you!

    Reply
  92. Jeanne DeRamcy

    Love this!

    Reply
  93. kayan

    thank uoy so much,great article.

    Reply
  94. Antonette Smit

    very good article

    Reply
  95. Margo

    Great article. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  96. deena

    thanks a lot

    Reply
  97. Aneesa

    Thanks

    Reply
  98. Aneesa

    Thank you so much, you deserve all the good things in life courtney. Giving to people is gaining more to self. Have a great day 🙂

    Reply
  99. jefferson suresh

    Amazing Courtney. Thanks for your knowledge sharing. I just loved reading it. I am student and I am learning to use CBT, it has been very helpful for me. Thanks

    Reply
  100. Rafaela Benincasa

    What an amazing article, Courtney!! Thank you for sharing such valuable content.

    Reply
  101. Ava

    Really loved all the worksheets ! I will slowing work them. thanks so much. They will all help me to observe and be aware of my thinking ! Stinkin thinkin!
    Very kind of you to give these out for free .

    Reply
  102. Anjar Trisno wiyoto

    I need a step of tehnique of cognitive behavior therapy, can you share informasi please? Thanks

    Reply
  103. Jaishri

    Loved the article. In such a simplistic way you have explained the complicated mind and the techniques areso doable.God bless u

    Reply
  104. Chevanne

    Hi there. Thanks for these free resources. I am going for a job and if I get it will be sure to buy your courses and tool kits.
    Kind Regards
    Chevanne

    Reply
  105. G.SOUNDARARAJAN

    DEAR MS.ACKERMAN
    YOU HAVE DONE A WONDERFUL JOB IN GIVING THIS FREE TO ALL PEOPLE
    YOUR GENROUSITY SHOWS YOU HAVE A PURE AND BEAUTIFUL HEART
    BY DOING THIS YOU HAVE PROVED THAT YOU ARE 100% ALTRUISITIC
    TAKE CARE
    WISH YOU ALL THE BEST
    G.S.RAJAN

    Reply
  106. Janelle

    Courtney-These are AWESOME ressources!! I’m doing my Master’s in Counselling Psychology and these will greatly help my clients as I’m doing my practicum right now! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Marc Richter

      Got my MSW in 1994…I was trying to explain CBT to a client… it was really great to find this info. Really great job!!!!

      Reply
  107. Nuaym

    Hi, thanks for the info on CBT. Really helpful.
    On a side note, do you think it’d be possible for me to redesign your logo? It really looks like Ositive right now.
    Cheers
    Nuaym

    Reply
  108. elmo francis

    Wow, after a very long time i found fantastic material on CBT and the practical side. i am writing to you from Sri Lanka and thank you for sharing and the generous contribution. would much appreciate it if i can connect. thank you once again and much appreciated. wishing you you the best

    Reply
  109. Laxmi kumawat

    Very nice its helpful to me.thank you.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks Laxmi, I’m glad you enjoyed this piece!

      Reply
  110. Eliana Pereira

    Thank for your article Courtney, it is really interesting. I want to use these techniques and tools for myself but I have some question. Should I choose only one Worksheet? and How often I should do that exercise? Is there any stipulated or recommended about it?
    I hope you see my comment.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Eliana, thanks for your comment! My suggestion is to use every technique or tool that interests you or that you think sounds helpful, and do them as often as you’d like. It’s nearly impossible to do too much for your own well-being!
      If you’d like more information on the recommendations for each exercise or activity, I encourage you to find the relevant source in my reference list and read the piece in which the exercise or activity was originally introduced. You should find all the information you need in the original sources, but generally I wouldn’t worry about doing any of them too often!

      Reply
  111. Maribel

    Hi Courtney! Very interesting and useful information on this article. My 16yrs old daughter was diagnosed with Non-epilepsy seizures last year. At the beginning Dx was Seizures, but when started Seizures meds, She end up in ICU for 2 days. Waiting to see a Neuropsychiatrist in a few (been on the waiting list for 6 months) who specializes on Non-epilepsy seizures. In the mean time when she get the seizure, they are bad from 1min-27min episodes and they last for 3-6 days. She misses a lot of school because of this and it getting to affected her grades now. Nothing we can pint points that trigger them. Any advice
    Thanks, Mari

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Mari, I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s struggles with seizures. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be, for both of you!
      I wish I could offer you some useful advice, but I have no medical training and I am not a mental health professional. All I can say is that using some of the CBT techniques listed in this article may help both of you to cope with the seizures and the uncertainty about their cause.
      Anything you can do to cope with the difficult emotions that the seizures bring will help you to stay strong and keep your focus on finding a way to heal! I wish you the best of luck, and I will keep my fingers crossed that your appointment with the neuropsychiatrist goes well!

      Reply
      • Mari

        Thank you so much for replying to me. I do appreciated your advise. We will be working with some of the CBT techniques. Right now she’s admitted as is been a week and she has not stop having seizures. Please keep your fingers crossed. Thank you again!

        Reply
  112. Umar

    Hello Courtney this is such a great service for the Mankind that you did by writing this article and I pray that God Bless you so much in the life to come.
    I wanted to ask you that I am facing OCD or specifically Religious Scrupulosity since one year. Also I do have anxiety and unknown fears that developed along with ocd I went to some therapists here in Pakistan but they were not really effective. Please guide me If I can go for Self CBT at this point in time as it is really hard for me to focus on anything like career and family life.
    Appreciated

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Umar. It’s hard enough struggling with a mental health issue like OCD, but it’s doubly difficult to try to go it alone when it comes to treatment!
      I am not a therapist so I cannot prescribe any type of treatment for you, but I would encourage you to give any and all of these worksheets and exercises a try. Additionally, there are many online therapists who can treat you from anywhere in the world. I would look into that, if feasible.
      Good luck, I wish you only the best!

      Reply
  113. R

    You rock

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks R! You rock too 🙂

      Reply
  114. Dr Miguel Antonio Fana Jr MD CPC CPMA CPCO

    Hi Courtney
    I serindipitiously got to your article from another article and it is probably the best written that I have seen.
    I’m ditching the Psychology Today website and using this one today. Positive Psychology folks should thank you for that nd everyone of my colleagues I refer to the site.
    On behalf of my patients, I am grateful

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for such a wonderfully positive comment, Dr. Fana! You’ve made my day.
      I find the Psychology Today website quite useful in scratching the surface of a wide variety of topics, but they rarely go into the depth that I seek. I keep a long list of websites that can be useful resources, as each one has a slightly different focus.
      I’m thrilled that you find this website to be such a great resource, and I’m truly grateful for every referral you make. Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you again on future articles!

      Reply
  115. Gus Torre DiMatadore

    Hi Courtney,
    I found your article really interesting. Thanks for putting valuable info out there. I felt kind of sad to read you curl up by yourself. Hopefully you can find a good companion out there other than your doggy lol. Happy holidays

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for your concern Gus, but not to worry – I have a wonderful husband to curl up with! Although my dogs are also fabulous cuddlers as well 🙂 Happy holidays to you too, and thank you for your comment!

      Reply
      • Eliana Pereira

        Thank for your article Courtney, it is really interesting. I want to use these techniques and tools for myself but I have some question. Should I choose only one Worksheet? and How often I should do that exercise? Is there any stipulated or recommended about it?
        I hope you see my comment.
        Thanks.

        Reply
  116. Hmoud Olimat

    I found this article a very informative and useful. Thank you Courtney for that.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re welcome, Hmoud – I’m so happy you found it useful!

      Reply
  117. Victor

    Courtney
    Nice to meet you Love what you said about CBT Hope all is well
    Aloha from Hawaii
    Victor

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Aloha, Victor! I’m glad you liked this piece. Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  118. premjit

    Hi Courtney Ackerman .
    Thank you.it was nice your paper.it easy to understand.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hey Premjit, thanks for your comment! I’m so glad you found this piece useful.

      Reply
  119. Diaserath

    Thanks Courtney for the writing, currently going through some hard times, depression and developing myself emotionally. Found it very helpful. Trying to go through over and over again. Just in some places can’t go through very well. And can’t afford a therapist, so trying to work on it by myself. Hope you will write more like this.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for your comment, Diaserath. I completely understand – I have gone through some tough times in my life when seeing a therapist was nearly impossible. Of course, you should see a professional as soon as you are able, but practicing CBT techniques can help keep you stable until then. I’m so glad this piece helped, and I encourage you to browse through our other pieces on therapeutic techniques from a wide range of approaches. Good luck!

      Reply
  120. Sunil V. Deshpande

    Hi ! Courtney ,
    As a part of thought experiments in CBT – would it be useful to use visual imagery , replacing , the person ( as the case may be ) , who is assumed to be causing negative automatic thoughts (in any form) , with a living character from the personal life of the affected individual , a male and / or female, who evokes laughter (to the extent of contempt). This does become effective , to the extent that it produces a reverse reaction (to the negative thoughts) and ———- Laughter , after all is the best medicine !

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hey Sunil, thank you for your comment! I’m not sure if that would be an effective use of imagery or not – laughter is healthy, but of course contempt should generally be avoided! Maybe there is something else you could imagine that would make you laugh?

      Reply
  121. James

    Thank you for an informative article Courtey. Go CGU! Graduated in 2005.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      No problem, James! It’s great to meet another CGU alum – what program were you in?

      Reply
  122. cindy

    is there a way to practice cbt daily without writing as im not able to write immediately when negative thoughts and rumination occur throughout my day. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Cindy! I understand – it can sometimes be difficult or impossible to stop what you’re doing and write things down.
      Luckily, there are several ways to practice CBT without stopping to write anything down. Most of the activities under the heading “9 Essential CBT Techniques and Tools” can be done without writing, as well as the “Visualize the Best Parts of Your Day” and “Reframe Your Negative Thoughts” exercises. In fact, most of these exercises can be done without writing – wherever you are instructed to write something down, just visualize writing instead, or use imagery in place of words.
      I hope that helps! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  123. Johndt

    Thank you so much for a no-nonsense, in-depth, informative guide to CBT. I must have gone through a thousand articles titled “The only guide you need to CBT!” that were a paragraph long and linked to another paragraph long article, or took you to the sign up page.
    This is a great overview that’s easy to understand, and I am also extremely grateful for the links to more in-depth, technical guides for CBT, so that I don’t have to scour the internet to find them!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s wonderful to hear – I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece! I have had the same experience you describe, with “the only guide you need on…” or “the definitive source for…” one thing or another. They are so rarely the ONLY source you need! Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      Reply
  124. Adrian Harris

    Your implication that all therapists and counsellors use CBT is misleading. Almost all the many counsellors and psychotherapists I know choose not to use CBT. CBT is great for some clients some of the time, but there is no ‘one size fits all’ and many other approaches can work just as well – if not better – than CBT.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Adrian, you’re absolutely correct – there are so many great forms of therapy out there! I’ve written about several of them on this blog, including narrative therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, client centered therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, emotion focused therapy, and many others. It’s certainly true that there is no one size fits all approach to therapy.
      However, CBT is probably the most widely used form of therapy and it can be applied for such a wide range of issues. It is also one of the most evidence-backed forms of therapy out there. Given its popularity, we highlighted that those who have seen a counselor before have probably been exposed to it, whether that amounted to the full CBT treatment or just a CBT technique or exercise.
      Thank you for pointing out that there are other therapies that can be just as helpful! We encourage everyone who is struggling to give one of the myriad treatment options a try, whether it’s CBT or another form of therapy.

      Reply
  125. Raji

    Hi Courtney.
    Greetings!
    It was nice to go through your article. I am working on an article on REBT therapy which is a part of CBT and I happened to read through yours. It was great to know the various techniques. Can you forward me some more details on CBT and REBT if you have. I have forwarded you my email.
    Raji

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Raji, thank you for your comment! I’m so glad you got some good information out of this article. For more information on CBT and REBT, please refer to the reference list for this article – those references are excellent resources for learning more about these types of therapies. Thanks again!

      Reply
  126. Sarah

    This article!!! Life changing! I learned a lot of these techniques when I was dealing with these issues years ago. They became almost ingrained. So why haven’t I thought to help my 18-year-old use these same techniques? She’s been dealing with anxiety for two years! Thank you for bringing it all back so that I have some useful tools.
    My question. My daughter has given up and lays all blame for her anxiety on a concussion two years ago. She seems to believe that this is her new normal and tries to live with it and not to fix it. Do I try to get her to take accountability for her panic disorder? I don’t mean blame her. I mean emphasizing that she has the power to fix it.
    BTW she is on medication and is in counseling.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m glad this article reminded you of your success with CBT! That’s so great to hear.
      Regarding your daughter, I am not a licensed mental health professional and I have no real authority to answer your question. But in my humble, non-professional opinion, you can only guide her towards the conclusion that she has the power to fix it, not convince her of this idea. That’s a conclusion she needs to come to on her own. And maybe she’s right – maybe something permanently shifted after her concussion and this IS her new normal. In that case, urging her to fix something that she can’t fix will only cause greater problems.
      Whatever you do, I encourage you to only make suggestions and never push. If she’s dead set on the idea that this is her new normal, nothing you say will change her mind. Just support her as best you can!
      It’s not a bad idea to share the techniques that you found helpful with her. Luckily, CBT techniques are good for both short-term and chronic mental health issues, so they should be able to help her with her anxiety no matter how long it lasts. Good luck Sarah, I wish you both the best!

      Reply
  127. Nicholas Noel

    This was truly a great read. I have started using it for myself. Lately thought, I have been more interested in using this for clients. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist. Is there anywhere you could lead me where I can find more info to help me create a sequence of steps that I can work on with client’s to help them achieve their dietary changes?

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hey Nicholas, thanks for your comment! I’m so glad you found this piece useful.
      I think it would be a great idea to encourage your clients to use some CBT practices, but I’d be careful in trying to guide or lead them through any of these – that should only be undertaken by licensed professionals.
      However, I did just do a quick Google search and it looks like there are plenty of resources out there that can help you incorporate CBT practices to promote healthy eating. Check out the results here: https://www.google.com/search?q=cbt+for+healthy+eating&oq=cbt+for+healthy+eating&aqs=chrome..69i57.3264j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
      I hope that helps get you started!

      Reply
  128. Isbah

    Amazing and valuable resources. THIS is the ultimate treatment!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for the comment, Isbah – I’m so glad you found this piece useful! CBT does have some pretty amazing results.

      Reply
  129. Jayneen Sanders

    Fantastic article, helpful and so easy to read. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so happy that you found this article useful, Jayneen! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  130. Komal

    Excellent article.. Really helpful..!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s great to hear, Komal! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  131. Jess

    a very helpful article. Thank You.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so glad you found this article helpful, Jess. Thanks for letting us know!

      Reply
  132. Humaira Shani

    thanks its very knowledgeable artical

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re so very welcome, Humaira! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  133. Mahmouid

    Thank you it is important article

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s great to hear, Mahmouid! I’m happy you found it to be a good read.

      Reply
  134. Jesse

    Thank you for this amzing article

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for the comment, Jesse! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply
  135. SMOW

    I think that the idea that emotions should be always be subordinated to thought ALL THE TIME is to deny what makes us human, and what allows us to connect with other humans in any meaningful and empathetic way. Some of these ideas are very useful, but to do something like continually expose yourself to something that is upsetting so that you become less upset by it over time is akin to what happens to people who are abused on a regular basis: they, over time, become less and less phased by the hideousness of their situation. No one deserves to become so inured to such hideous circumstances. In that way leads the normalization of represensible behavior.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. There has been a lot of discussion in and around positive psychology on the potential damage of “making the best of a bad situation,” if the situation is a truly toxic one. That’s why it is always recommended to see a licensed professional if one is feeling totally overwhelmed or experiencing great suffering.
      Exposure therapy ideas have their place, but even they don’t encourage anyone to stay in a harmful situation if there is a way out!

      Reply
    • Isbah

      Actually, I think this is a great treatment for those suffering with unwanted and disturbing thoughts. Making the best of a bad situation– i.e. a loved one passing away or past childhood abuse– is crucial so you can see a different and better perspective and move on with life! Who wants to think they suck just because they for bullied 20 years ago or theyre not good enough because they got a divorce.

      Reply
  136. Taniya nigam

    M tanya ,i m of 21yrs n m suffering from ocd for 2yrs..i m so stressed n depressed..i tried my best to avoid all those bad thoughts bt i could not ,i m feeling so low,so weak …i feel like ,i have loosed my all confidence..:-(?????..help me plss.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so sorry to hear than, Taniya. I have struggled with stress and depression myself, although luckily I have never had to contend with OCD symptoms.
      I wish I could help you, but I’m not qualified to counsel or treat anyone. I encourage you to reach out to a licensed mental health professional. If you are having trouble getting out of the house or calling someone, there are online treatment options that may help. One such option can be found at https://www.talkspace.com/online-therapy/.
      I wish you the very best in your journey to wellness, Taniya!

      Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re so very welcome, and thanks for reading!

      Reply
  137. Janis Isaac

    Thank you for this article.
    It has been so helpful.
    regards
    Janis

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Janis! Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  138. Izabela

    Grea article. I’ll definitely use some of the techniques not only on my clients but also on myself. Thank you so much for writing it.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s awesome, Izabela – I’m so happy you found these techniques useful! Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  139. Karen

    What a large amount of valuable information thank you! I feel more positive and hopeful already, armed with some real tools and actual exercises I can do!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s great to hear, Karen! Thanks for the feedback!

      Reply
  140. Abdul Latheef

    Very useful tips.. thanks for sharing..

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks Abdul, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  141. Zizi Sabra

    thanks Courtney, it is informative and useful

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s what we love to hear, Zizi! Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
  142. Eleana Coll

    thank you

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re welcome, Eleana! Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  143. Bal Sammy

    Very interesting, informative and practically helpful. I would like to learn more and take up this specialised field..CBT. I am at present a Psychiatric Nurse.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for the comment, Bal. I’m glad you found this piece helpful! CBT has so much potential for the effective treatment of psychiatric issues. I think it would be a great idea to specialize in it!

      Reply
  144. Marie

    Mindfulness meditation is NOT CBT! That is inaccurate and should be clarified.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Marie! You’re right, mindfulness meditation is not necessarily CBT, but it is often used in CBT treatment so I think it fits right in with the other techniques and exercises listed here. Thanks for making the distinction!

      Reply
  145. Kenneth Walker

    I am 52 yeasr old and I’ve had epilepsy since the age of 4. My neroligist told me that I had CD and that it was only going to get worse. I found it very interesting when I read obout it. all of the traits that were listed some how related to my day to day living. It is very nice to have someone like you shed some light un the situation. I will start doing everything that I can to learn more about what can be done to help. Thank you very much and geep up the great work!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so glad you found this piece helpful! I hope some of these exercises will be effective for you. Thanks for sharing with us, Kenneth!

      Reply
  146. Signora

    Hi,
    My mother(age:52) had a brain stroke last month, her body is now paralyzed, she can’t eat, move herself so the doctors put the NG tube in her nose and urine bag. Now she had gone in severe depression all the time she is crying and saying I am so sick I won’t get better now and she has lost hope for life. It is very hard to take her to the hospital for therapies and if we call any psychologist at home its really expensive in our country. Can you please suggest anything that we can do at home to get her out from that depression?

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Signora. I wish I could suggest something more helpful, but I’m not qualified to treat anybody. She may find some of these exercises useful. Perhaps an online therapist could help? I sincerely wish you and your mother the best, and I hope she recovers!

      Reply
  147. Simran

    This article is really the best among all I have read yet about the CBT, I have nail biting and cuticle biting problem since childhood and I have found that it has a connection with OCD, Can you please guide me

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for the comment Simran! I am not qualified as a mental health professional, so unfortunately I am unable to help you. I encourage you to look up therapists in your area who specialize in treating OCD!

      Reply
  148. zac

    This article has been very helpful in helping me identify the kind of therapy I believe I need. I encourage you to keep doing what your doing because we need all the help we can get. I’m sure all of these people like myself suffered deep trauma in their youths. Thanks again for sharing all this information.
    Sincerely,
    Zac

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Zac, this makes me so happy to read. I am passionate about finding ways to help those struggling with mental health issues, and it is just delightful to hear that people are finding my work useful.
      Thank you for your comment, and good luck finding the right kind of therapy. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to find your match – you wouldn’t be the first to go through a lot of trial and error in this process, and you certainly won’t be the last!

      Reply
  149. fanon frazier

    Hello Courtney, and everyone,
    As a prevention educator, this article is very instructive. Though I am not a trained CBT therapist, I would like to incorporate CBT practices into some youth empowerment workshops. I am wondering to what extent I could adapt it without being harmfully presumptuous or jeopardizing? Ultimately I seek to borrow some CBT methodology in a “strength-based” context
    (Also, I am looking for relevant CBT resources, worksheets, etc. if anyone can help me out.)
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Fanon, thanks for your comment!
      I think you’re right to be cautious when applying CBT techniques as a non-mental health professional. I suggest introducing the techniques, describing how to take advantage of them and how they can help, and encouraging youth to give them a try if they are curious. However, I would avoid any techniques or discussion surrounding particularly sensitive topics, like abuse. Make sure you use a disclaimer saying that you are not a qualified professional and that the information you provide is for educational purposes only.
      Perhaps a qualified therapist or other mental health professional can chime in here with more information.
      Hopefully the resources provided here are a good start! I encourage you to check the websites and sources cited to find more worksheets, activities, etc. Thanks, and good luck!

      Reply
  150. Rosemary Dillon

    Thank you for your very relevant and practical outlines of CBT and references and links to tools that can be used .It has been a pleasure to be introduced to your articles and have a glimpse of you as a person who I feel believes in and applies your study to your own life.
    Blessings to you as you continue in your work.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you so much Rosemary! I’m so glad you find these articles useful. I try to implement as much as I can, but of course it’s hard to make time to do everything we want to do. As with most people, there’s always something else I could be doing to be more grateful, centered, and mindful!

      Reply
  151. Shalini

    Thanks for sharing of your knowledge

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for reading, Shalini!

      Reply
  152. Romana

    Reading all this has helped give me insight to what my 17 year old is going through in her sessions.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s great to hear! As someone who attended therapy sessions as a 17 year old, it is so very helpful to know your parents understand what you are going through and support your efforts to get well.

      Reply
  153. Sally

    It’s just a great article with plenty of usefull tips and techniques. Happy to see people like you devoted to other people who do need help. Thanks

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      It’s great to know that readers find my articles helpful! I love the idea that my work helps those in need, since I know what it is like to need this sort of help myself. Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  154. Omayra

    It is great and helpful information. Thank you-

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks Omayra, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  155. Maria Haroon

    bundles of THANKS for such an informative article, I am Glad to see my morning class as I am fully prepared, fine and I want to print it to get more close to this handout. Always wait for YOUR new articles, Stay happy,LOVE.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re so very welcome, Maria! We’re glad you enjoy the articles 🙂

      Reply
  156. Courtney Ackerman

    I’m so sorry you’re struggling Sandy. It sounds like you should get in touch with your doctor about the problems you’re having. These exercises can be very helpful, but they can’t replace treatment guided by a qualified professional for those who are burdened by acute or chronic mental illness. If you are going through a particularly difficult time, I encourage you to text “HOME” to 741741. This will put you in touch with people from the Crisis Text Line who may be able to help.

    Reply
  157. Sandy

    Thankyou, for such a wonderful article… whatever mentioned is true about the article…. i have ocd …. from many years especially when i have periods … i wash hands, buckets, mugs i feel scared going to parlour and i dont allow my hubby to go either i feel scared of dirt and unable to take care of family…. i make compulsions on my daughter’s too …. i dont know the reason … please help….

    Reply
  158. Martina Lampkin

    Thank you for these techniques! When I was in therapy, a few of the techniques that you mentioned were what my therapist had me do. Unfortunately, I had to stop seeing her because I had started a job and she didn’t have any evening hours.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re welcome Martina! I recognize quite a few of these techniques from my own experiences with therapy as well. It’s so disappointing when a good therapy relationship has to end because of something like scheduling. I hope you are able to find a new therapist that you click with!

      Reply
  159. Saugat ghimire

    Wow it is a great help.thank you so much

    Reply
    • Jessie van den Heuvel

      You’re very welcome Saugat. I’m so happy to hear that it has been helping you.

      Reply
  160. Joan Melnik

    I learned more from your article then i have in therapy. I don’t know why I am given no tools at all. I’m tired of the hour long bitching sessions. It’s like paying someone to be my friend and listen to me vent. I have PTSD and will be trying to change my thoughts. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for your comment, Joan! You’ve reminded me about the importance of the fit between therapist and client. I’ve had a few different therapists over the years and only one was a really good fit for me and my needs. I’d encourage you to try a new therapist if your current one is not working out for you.
      I’m so glad this article has helped in the meantime! Therapy is great but there is also so much we can do on our own to cope and heal. Good luck with your journey back to wellness, I wish you the best!

      Reply
  161. Mike Steevens

    Actually everything here is true i used 2 think negative about certain stuff then i said thinking negative just leads 2 depression & then 2 suicidal thoughts so i decided 2 look on the positive side like if i’d fall through something i’d say wow look how far u came this time try again & you’ll get further next time & it still works till this day. Excellent write up thank u so much.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      You’re welcome Mike, I’m glad you found it useful! Congratulations on your successful management of negative thoughts – it’s quite an achievement!

      Reply
  162. Desi

    Hi Seph, I have some questions about the tool kit where can I ask those? Desi

    Reply
  163. Lady Bonilla

    Excellent commentary, very illustrative and motivating.
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you, I’m glad you liked it!

      Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      No problem, I’m happy you found it useful!

      Reply
  164. Antonio Kalentzis

    Bravo, very good job Seph!!
    I am looking forward for a post like this, that will focus on group therapies.
    A.K.

    Reply
  165. shani

    thank you so much. this is very valuable article. keep it up. wish you best of luck.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you Shani, I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  166. Suzanne Tucker

    What a fantastic resource you’ve pulled together. I will be keeping your site bookmarked to both return to and share with the Generation Mindful community of therapists, educators and parents.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Suzanne, thank you for your comment! Feel free to share with anyone who might be interested. I’ll have to look into Generation Mindful, it sounds like a wonderful community!

      Reply
  167. Angela Kendal

    This is by far the clearest and most comprehensive article on CBT I have ever read.
    You really know your stuff Courtney. Well done.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for your comment, Angela. I’m glad you liked this piece! I certainly learned a lot while writing it.

      Reply
  168. helen

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! IT IS GREAT TO BE REMINDED OF THE POWER OF CBT AND THAT IT CAN BE USDED IN COACHING AS A TECHNIQUE AND TOOL AND APPLIED IN A POSITIVE WAY TO ACHIEVE COACHING GOALS. THIS FURTHER CHALLENGES THE PERCEPTION OF ITS PRIMARY ROLE HERE IN THE U.K AS A TREATMENT FOR PYSCHOLOGICAL DISTRURBANCE. IT IS GREAT FOR ME WHEN I APPLY IT IN COACHING – IT’S A SIMPLISTIC MODEL!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Helen, I completely agree. These techniques and exercises are extremely effective for those suffering from mental illness, but they can also yield fantastic results for those dealing with everyday stress, anxiety, or simply a bad mood (i.e., all of us, at one time or another!). In striving towards the goal of a more positive world, we should be open to any techniques that prove effective, no matter which discipline they come from!

      Reply
  169. Titiek Rohani

    I thought I saw that the Facts and Opinion Worksheet has a missing number 13.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Good eye – it is indeed missing number 13! Perhaps the creator of this worksheet is superstitious! Shall we think of another to add?

      Reply
  170. Elena Teodora Albulescu

    Thank you again and again for the article.It’sreal helpful for me,I ‘m struggling with automatic negative thoughts and the techniques wich are described are pritty simple to exercise.I am an oncologist and our speciality is “burning out”our mind.I”llbe trying some of the techniques.

    Reply
    • Seph Fontane Pennock

      Best of luck with that Elena! I think CBT techniques can be extremely useful in a variety of medical settings and am happy to hear you’re leading the way.

      Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Elena, thank you for your comment. I struggle with automatic thoughts and cognitive distortions myself, as I think we all do at some time or another. I’m glad you found these tips useful, and I hope all of our readers will find them to be useful as well! Let us know about your experience giving them a try, I’d love to hear your feedback.

      Reply
  171. Noel Lyons

    Am not sure all readers will be aware just how effective CBT is in practice Courtney!
    Here are 3 articles that have recently caught my attention:
    https://health.spectator.co.uk/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-can-change-your-brain-structure-in-just-a-few-weeks
    http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/improving-therapy-very-common-disorder
    http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/how-did-web-based-cognitive-therapy-work-for-insomnia
    As such, you have put together an excellent resource here and many thanks for the PDF downloads – I will add them to my collection!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Perhaps the effectiveness of CBT should be the subject of one of our future pieces. Thank you for sharing, Noel!

      Reply

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