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Therapy & General Mental Health Worksheets
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based form of psychological therapy. This means that a CBT therapist and their patient need to gather information about experiences and reactions including the thoughts, feelings, body sensations, behaviors that happen in and out of session. Collecting this information in written form is helpful because it externalizes our experience and makes information less prone to bias than information that is just ‘in our heads.’ CBT therapists and their patients will use data: from examining the validity and helpfulness of thoughts to looking for patterns in behavior. CBT worksheets are forms that are designed to be filled in. CBT worksheets can be used in many different ways including:
- forms that your patient uses to gather data outside sessions, such as a thought monitoring record or an activity diary;
- forms that you and your patients complete together in-session such as a case formulation diagram; and
- forms that you and your patients start in-session and complete outside session such as a behavioral experiment worksheet or a positive belief log.
“If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”Jessie Potter
CBT is a ‘doing therapy’ as much as a ‘talking therapy.’ This means that key therapeutic interventions are exercises that introduce a new way of thinking, acting, and, ultimately, feeling. CBT exercises are tasks that you can try with your patients in-session, or tasks that your patients can complete outside session. Popular cognitive behavioral exercises include diaphragmatic breathing, interoceptive exposure, and worry postponement.
A core feature of many cognitive models is the focus on (mis)appraisals that people make concerning an event or stimulus. For example, people who panic misinterpret benign body sensations as indicating potential catastrophe, and people who experience symptoms of psychosis misinterpret anomalous experiences as being externally generated. One way of working therapeutically with interpretations is to offer corrective information that our patients did not have before. CBT information handouts are helpful when your patients have a knowledge deficit, or when it may be helpful to normalize an experience. Psychology Tools information handouts are concise, accurate, and informative one-page introductions to a topic.
A fundamental principle of CBT is that we are teaching our patients skills in a manner that means they will be able to remember and apply them flexibly in their lives. Time-limited treatments mean that clinicians often have to compromise between teaching fewer skills in-depth or more skills with less coverage. Psychology Tools guides are an effective way of helping your patients to confidently implement the skills that you teach. Guides help your patients to review all of the essential background to a topic and then lead them through the practical steps needed to implement a skill.