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What is the thought record technique?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, popularly known as CBT, is a widely used therapeutic approach for several mental health conditions, and the concept of CBT revolves around thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they are all interconnected. Simply put, a change in the way we think can lead to changes in how we feel and act. One of the commonly used techniques in CBT is the thought record technique.

With the help of this tool, one can identify and challenge negative, complex, or unhelpful thoughts. In this blog post, we are sharing about what the thought record technique is and related aspects.

CBT Techniques: What is a thought record technique?

This is one of the simple and powerful behavioral therapy techniques to track and analyze our thoughts to understand them and how they impact our emotions and our actions. By tracking and analyzing our thoughts in a structured way, we can develop a greater awareness of our thinking patterns and learn to challenge and change them. The thought record, one of the effective psychotherapy techniques, is typically a table or worksheet that includes the following columns:

Situation: A brief description of the situation that triggered the negative or unhelpful thought.

Emotion: A description of the emotion that was experienced in response to the situation.

Automatic Thought: The negative or unhelpful thought that came to mind in response to the situation.

Evidence for: A list of evidence that supports the automatic thought.

Evidence against: A list of evidence that contradicts the automatic thought.

Alternative Thought: A new, more balanced, and rational thought that takes into account the evidence for and against automatic thought.

Outcome: The resulting emotion or behaviour that occurred after the alternative thought was adopted.

What is the thought record technique

How is the cognitive therapy techniques are used in therapy?

Therapeutic techniques like thought record sheets are often used by a trained CBT therapist. The therapist will guide the individual on how to complete a thought record for a specific situation that triggered negative thoughts. 

Later, the therapist will try and understand the automatic thought that occurred in response to the situation, and then work with them to identify evidence that supports and contradicts the automatic thought. This process helps the individual to see that their negative thoughts may not be entirely accurate or based on reality.

Once evidence for and against the automatic thought has been identified, the therapist will work with the individual to come up with a new, more balanced, and rational alternative thought that takes into account all the evidence. This new thought is then tested in the real world, and the individual is encouraged to observe the resulting emotion or behavior.

Over time, the thought record technique and other cbt techniques for anxiety help people develop a greater awareness of their thoughts and learn to challenge and change negative or unhelpful thinking patterns. 

If you are struggling with negative thoughts, anxiety, or other mental health issues, consider reaching out to Scarborough Psychology’s trained CBT therapists and psychologists. They can help you develop skills and techniques like thought record sheets to improve your mental health. Click here to book an appointment.