The most effective way to practice cognitive restructuring is to complete a thought record or thought diary. The thought record is one of the foundational tools of CBT. In the thought record we write down:
- Our automatic negative thoughts
- The situations that triggered them
- The moods, emotions, feelings, and physical symptoms or sensations we experience in response.
Then we identify the automatic negative thought most responsible for how we feel, and use cognitive restructuring to come up with alternative and more balanced thoughts. The thought record is the main tool we use in CBT to change the way we think. It helps us see things from a different perspective, and as a result, change the way we feel.
The Thought Record in CBT
There are a couple of different formats of the thought record you can download below. The first is based on Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky. The second is based on the thought diary from the Centre for Clinical Interventions. For this format there is a full two-page thought record, a condensed one-page version, and a filled out example of a completed thought record:
- Mind Over Mood-style thought record [PDF] [Word]
- CCI-style thought record [Full PDF] [Full Word] [Condensed PDF] [Condensed Word]
- Sample completed thought record PDF
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