Skip to main content

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a popular form of psychological therapy that works with our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT is an integration of principles from behavior therapy with theory and methods from the cognitive therapies developed by Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis. The CBT that is practiced today has evolved with new developments in basic and applied research; it is grounded in empirical research and clinical practice. CBT is a broad church: the family of ‘cognitive and behavioral therapies’ encompasses many approaches including cognitive therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and compassion-focused therapy (CFT). Beck’s cognitive model identifies different levels of human cognitions: automatic thoughts are the most superficial level of cognition and describe the thoughts, words, ideas, and images that seem to pop into our minds; rigid and over-generalized core beliefs about ourselves, the world, and other people; and intermediate attitudes, rules, and assumptions that are influenced by our core beliefs. The cognitive model proposes that how we feel emotionally, and how we act, are determined by how we interpret and think about a situation. It argues that psychological problems and disorders are the result of dysfunctional thinking, and are maintained by self-defeating behavior influenced by inaccurate beliefs. Cognitive behavior therapists understand that by changing the way we think and act in the here-and-now we can change the way we feel, and CBT often begins with a focus on what is maintaining a problem in the present. For lasting change, CBT therapists often work with the deeper levels of their client’s beliefs and assumptions. Read more
languages 53 languages

Problem

Therapy tool

Language

ABC Belief Monitoring

Functional analysis explores relationships between stimuli and responses. This behavioral analysis tool is arranged in an ABC (Antedents, Behaviors, C ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/abc-belief-monitoring/

Worksheet

Activity Diary

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-diary/

Worksheet

Activity Diary (No Time Slots)

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-diary-no-times/

Worksheet

Activity Planning

Research suggests that an activity is more likely to be completed if it is planned and scheduled in advance. The Activity Planning worksheet can be us ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-planning/

Worksheet

Activity Selection

Activity selection is a tool for rating the difficulty of different activities. It is a helpful tool when clients have difficulty choosing between act ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/activity-selection/

Exercise

Alternative Action Formulation

The Alternative Action Formulation is a CBT case conceptualization (formulation) worksheet. Formulations help a client and therapist come to a shared ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/alternative-action-formulation/

Worksheet

An Introduction To CBT (Psychology Tools For Living Well)

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help your clients to live happier and more fulfilling lives. Psychology Tools for Living Well is a self-help course ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/an-introduction-to-cbt-psychology-tools-for-living-well/

Chapter

Anger Decision Sheet

Individuals who have a problem with anger can benefit from considering and rehearsing different responses to triggering situations. The Anger Decision ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/anger-decision-sheet/

Exercise

Anger Diary

Self monitoring of thoughts, feelings and symptoms is an essential skill for clients engaged in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The Anger Diary is ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/anger-diary/

Worksheet

Anger Self-Monitoring Record

Self-monitoring is a fundamental tool in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This Anger Self-Monitoring Record is designed to help clients to better ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/anger-self-monitoring-record/

Worksheet

Anger Thought Challenging Record

Disputing thoughts is a critical skill in cognitive therapy. The Anger Thought Monitoring Record helps clients to identify and challenge their angry t ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/anger-thought-challenging-record/

Worksheet

Anger Thought Monitoring Record

Understanding the relationship between thoughts, emotions, body sensations and behavior is a first step towards making changes. The Anger Thought Moni ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/anger-thought-monitoring-record/

Worksheet

Anxiety Self-Monitoring Record

Self-monitoring is a fundamental tool in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This Anxiety Self-Monitoring Record is designed to help clients to bette ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/anxiety-self-monitoring-record/

Worksheet

Assertive Communication

Communicating assertively is an essential skill for maintaining healthy self-esteem and strong relationships. This information handout describes the k ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/assertive-communication/

Information Handout

Assertive Responses

Communicating assertively is an essential skill for maintaining healthy self-esteem and strong relationships. The Assertive Responses exercise helps c ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/assertive-responses/

Exercise

Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) automatically regulates the function of body systems outside of voluntary control. The Autonomic Nervous System han ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/autonomic-nervous-system/

Information Handout

Avoidance Hierarchy

Avoidance and safety-seeking behavior serves to maintain anxiety, and exposure to the fear stimuli/situation is an effective treatment for anxiety. Th ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/avoidance-hierarchy/

Exercise

Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty

Guilt is a common post-traumatic reaction and is often the result of cognitive bias. This CBT worksheet explores common cognitive biases that have bee ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/before-i-blame-myself-and-feel-guilty/

Exercise

Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral experiments allow individuals to test the validity of their beliefs and assumptions. They are a core experiential technique for therapeutic ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/behavioral-experiment/

Worksheet

Belief Driven Formulation

Cognitive behavioral theory proposes that our thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the here-and-now are influenced by our schemas / core beliefs / assu ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/belief-driven-formulation/

Worksheet

Belief-O-Meter (CYP)

The Belief-O-Meter is an engaging way of helping children and adolescents to relate to their thoughts differently. It is a form of cognitive restructu ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/belief-o-meter-cyp/

Worksheet

Catching Your Thoughts (CYP)

Before thoughts can be examined or challenged they must be ‘caught’ – they must be noticed and distinguished from events and feelings. The Catch ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/catching-your-thoughts-cyp/

Worksheet

CBT Daily Activity Diary

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-daily-activity-diary/

Worksheet

CBT Daily Activity Diary With Enjoyment And Mastery Ratings

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-daily-activity-diary-e-m/

Worksheet

CBT Daily Activity Diary With No Time Slots

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-daily-activity-diary-no-times/

Worksheet

CBT Thought Record

The CBT Thought Record is an essential tool in cognitive behavioral therapy. Thought challenging records help people to evaluate their negative automa ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-thought-record/

Worksheet

CBT Thought Record Portrait

The CBT Thought Record is an essential tool in cognitive behavioral therapy. Thought challenging records help people to evaluate their negative automa ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cbt-thought-record-portrait/

Worksheet

Challenging Your Negative Thinking

A cornerstone of cognitive behavioral therapy is that an individual’s interpretation of an event determines how they feel and behave. We all experie ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/challenging-your-negative-thinking/

Guide

Checking Certainty And Doubt

Psychologists have discovered interesting relationships between Checking, Certainty, And Doubt. This information handout contains an exercise helpful ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/checking-certainty-and-doubt/

Exercise

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is a process by which stimuli become associated with responses. This information handout describes key principles of Classical ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/classical-conditioning/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Anorexia Nervosa (2003)

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by restriction of energy intake and intense fear of gaining weight. For women, the lifetime preva ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-anorexia-nervosa-2003/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) (2004)

Individuals with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) experience distress associated with their body image. The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Body Dysmorphi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd-2004/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Bulimia Nervosa (2003)

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by purging. Among young women, the point prevalence of bulimia is about 1 ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-bulimia-nervosa-2003/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Fear Of Bodily Sensations (2018)

Fear of bodily sensations is present in a number of conditions, most notably panic disorder. The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Fear Of Bodily Sensatio ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-fear-of-bodily-sensations-2018/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (1998)

Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder report clinically significant worry alongside physical arousal. The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Genera ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad-1998/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Health Anxiety (2003)

Individuals with health anxiety experience clinically significant distress associated with health concerns. The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Health A ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-health-anxiety-2003/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Health Anxiety (2018)

The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Health Anxiety describes maintaining factors which prolong distress in health-anxious clients. The formulation is pr ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-health-anxiety-2018/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (1998)

The essential insight of the cognitive behavioural model of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is that it is the client’s interpretation of the int ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-1998/

Worksheet

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Panic (1986)

The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Panic identifies catastrophic misinterpretation of body sensations as a criticial maintenance factor which serves to ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-panic-1986/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD) (2017)

Persistent postural-perceptual dizziness (PPPD) is a form of dizziness which is thought to be maintained by psychological factors. ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-persistent-postural-perceptual-dizziness-pppd-2017/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (2000)

The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) identifies alterations in memory, cognitions, and behavior as critical mainten ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-2000/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of The Relapse Process (1999)

Marlatt’s (1985) cognitive behavioral model of relapse conceptualizes relapse as a “transitional process, a series of events that unfold over ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-the-relapse-process-1999/

Information Handout

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Tinnitus (2014)

The Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Tinnitus identifies cognitive, behavioral, and perceptual changes which operate to maintain tinnitus perception and ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-behavioral-model-of-tinnitus-2014/

Information Handout

Cognitive Case Formulation

A CBT case conceptualization tool to help therapists derive core beliefs from an analysis of current events. ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cognitive-case-formulation/

Worksheet

Core Belief Magnet Metaphor

Core beliefs (schemas) are self-sustaining. They act to ‘attract’ confirmatory evidence and ‘repel’ (or distort) disconfirmato ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/core-belief-magnet-metaphor/

Information Handout

Court Trial Thought Challenging Record

Thought challenging records are commonly used in CBT to help people to evaluate their negative automatic thoughts for accuracy and bias. This Thought ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/court-trial-thought-challenging-record/

Worksheet

Cross Sectional Formulation

Case conceptualizations (formulations) help therapists and clients come to a shared understanding of a problem. This Cross Sectional Formulation explo ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/cross-sectional-formulation/

Worksheet

Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts

Thought challenging records are commonly used in CBT to help people to evaluate their negative automatic thoughts for accuracy and bias. The Daily Rec ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/daily-record-of-dysfunctional-thoughts/

Worksheet

Decatastrophizing

Catastrophic thinking (magnification) is characteristic of many anxiety problems. This CBT worksheet for decatastrophizing is a tool for cognitive res ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/decatastrophizing/

Exercise

Exposure And Response Prevention

Exposure And Response Prevention (ERP, EX/RP) is an effective treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). This CBT worksheet guides therapists ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/exposure-and-response-prevention/

Exercise

Exposure Practice Form

Exposure is an effective treatment for many forms of anxiety. The Exposure Practice Form is a CBT worksheet which guides therapists and clients throug ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/exposure-practice-form/

Exercise

Facing Your Fears (CYP)

Graded or graduated exposure is a traditional way of overcoming fears and phobias. The therapist helps the client to draw up a list of feared situatio ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/facing-your-fears-cyp/

Worksheet

Fact Or Opinion

One cognitive error which commonly results in distress is to act on our opinions as though they were facts. This CBT exercise helps clients to practic ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fact-or-opinion/

Exercise

Fatigue Activity Diary

Activity diaries are a crucial information-gathering tool. They can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom mon ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fatigue-activity-diary/

Worksheet

Friendly Formulation

Case conceptualizations (formulations) help therapists and clients come to a shared understanding of a problem. This simple CBT formulation worksheet ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/friendly-formulation/

Worksheet

Functional Analysis

Functional analysis examines the causes and consequences of behavior. This classic A-B-C Functional Analysis worksheet can be used to collect informat ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/functional-analysis/

Worksheet

Functional Analysis With Intervention Planning

This classic A-B-C functional analysis worksheet can be used to collect information about what came before a behavior (antecedents), the behavior itse ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/functional-analysis-with-intervention-planning/

Worksheet

Habituation

The Habituation information sheets are designed to help clinicians to explain the concept of habituation and its role in exposure therapy. The handout ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/habituation/

Information Handout

Health Anxiety Thought Monitoring Record

Individuals with health anxiety experience clinically significant distress associated with health concerns. This thought-monitoring record enables cli ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/health-anxiety-thought-monitoring-record/

Worksheet

Health Anxiety Thought Record

Individuals with health anxiety experience clinically significant distress associated with health concerns. This thought-challenging record enables cl ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/health-anxiety-thought-record/

Worksheet

Hindsight Bias

Survivors of loss or trauma often think “If only …”. Hindsight Bias is a cognitive bias / cognitive illusion which makes events seem mor ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/hindsight-bias/

Information Handout

Hotspot Record

Enhanced ‘reliving’ in trauma-focused CBT for PTSD involves addressing the meaning associated with ‘hot spots’ of traumatic me ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/hotspot-record/

Worksheet

Identifying The Meaning Of Body Sensations

Some anxiety disorders (including panic and health anxiety), are concerned with body sensations and symptoms. The Identifying The Meaning Of Body Sens ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/identifying-the-meaning-of-body-sensations/

Worksheet

Interoceptive Exposure

Interoceptive exposure (exposure to bodily sensations) is a critical part of CBT treatment for panic disorder. This information sheet and worksheet de ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/interoceptive-exposure/

Exercise

Intrusion Diary

Self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings and symptoms is an essential skill for clients engaged in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The Intrusion Diar ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/intrusion-diary/

Worksheet

Intrusion Record

What differentiates intrusive congitions in OCD is the meaning that clients with OCD attach to them. The Intrusion Record is a CBT worksheet for captu ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/intrusion-record/

Worksheet

Intrusive Memory Record

Intrusive (unwanted, involuntary) memories are a common feature of PTSD, but also depression and other conditions. This Intrusive Memory Record is des ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/intrusive-memory-record/

Worksheet

Lapse And Relapse Management

Recovery has a fluctuating course and so Lapse And Relapse Management is necessary when learning any new skill. It is applicable to most CBT work, as ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/lapse-and-relapse-management/

Worksheet

Longitudinal Formulation 1

Case conceptualizations (formulations) help therapists and clients come to a shared understanding of a problem. This case formulation worksheet is a t ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/longitudinal-formulation-1/

Worksheet

Longitudinal Formulation 2

Case conceptualizations (formulations) help therapists and clients come to a shared understanding of a problem. This longitudinal case formulation wor ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/longitudinal-formulation-2/

Worksheet

Mastery And Pleasure Activity Diary

Activity diaries can be used for activity monitoring during an assessment phase of therapy, symptom monitoring during therapy, correlating activity wi ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/mastery-and-pleasure-activity-diary/

Worksheet

Maximizing The Effectiveness Of Exposure Therapy

Despite its position as the leading treatment technique for anxiety disorders, not all clients respond to exposure therapy and some individuals relaps ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/maximizing-the-effectiveness-of-exposure-therapy/

Information Handout

Modifying Rules And Assumptions

Assumptions are often considered dysfunctional if they are inflexible, rigid, or lead to counterproductive behaviors. Modifying Rules And Assumptions ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/modifying-rules-and-assumptions/

Worksheet

Nightmare Exposure And Rescripting

Imagery rescripting is an effective treatment for intrusive and unwanted memories. Nightmare Exposure And Rescripting employs similar techniques and c ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/nightmare-exposure-and-rescripting/

Exercise

OCD Diary

Self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings and symptoms is an essential skill for clients engaged in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Clients will find ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/ocd-diary/

Worksheet

OCD Hierarchy

Part of traditional CBT treatment for OCD is exposure to situations which trigger obsessions (classically accompanied by the prevention of the associa ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/ocd-hierarchy/

Exercise

Operant Conditioning

Operant conitioning / instrumental learning is a mechanism by which behaviors can be strengthened or weakened over time. This information handout desc ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/operant-conditioning/

Information Handout

Overview Of CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for a wide variety of mental and physical health conditions. This information handout des ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/overview-of-cbt/

Information Handout

Panic Attack Record Form

Self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings and symptoms is an essential skill for clients engaged in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The Panic Attack R ... https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/panic-attack-record-form/

Worksheet

Assessment

Cognitive therapy competence / adherence measures

Case Conceptualization / Case Formulation

Presentations

Recommended Reading

This series of articles are good introduction to the basics of CBT. The authors have gone on to sell a branded form of CBT using some of these metaphors / explanation but the messages apply equally to generic CBT.