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Anger Thought Challenging Record

Disputing thoughts is a critical skill in cognitive therapy. The Anger Thought Challenging Record helps clients to identify and challenge their angry thoughts.


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This Anger Thought Challenging Record is designed to help clients to challenge their angry thoughts. Clients are encouraged to record their angry thoughts in specific situations, and then to generate alternate perspectives.


Clients should be instructed to record specific instances in which angry thoughts, feelings, or responses were prompted.

  1. In the first column (Situation) clients should be instructed to record what they were doing when they started to notice a significant change in how they were feeling. Training clients to record specific details (such as who they were with, where they were, and what had just happened) is often helpful when later elaborating a memory for an event, or simply in understanding the reasons for subsequent thoughts and responses
  2. In the second column (Angry thoughts) clients should be directed to record any automatic cognitions. They should be reminded that cognitions can take the form of verbal thoughts, but can also take the form of images, or memories. If a recorded cognition is an image (e.g. “I had a picture in my mind of him smiling as he pushed in”), clients should be directed to question what that image means to them (e.g “It means he knows that he’s taking advantage, that he thinks I’m weak”) and to record that idiosyncratic meaning.
  3. In the third column (Emotions and body sensations) clients should be instructed to record their emotional reactions in that moment (which can typically be described using single words, e.g. angry, annoyed, frustrated) and associated body sensations (e.g. tightness in my stomach). Clients should be encouraged to rate the intensity of these sensations on 0–100% scale.
  4. In the fourth column (Balanced response) clients should be instructed to generate alternate ways of interpreting the situation. Reframing angry thoughts will likely need to be practiced in-session. Suggestions might include making efforts to depersonalize a situation (“he wasn’t try to get at me personally, he’s just being rude to everyone”) or to take alternate perspectives (“is this insult going to matter to me in 6 months time?”).


  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.
  • Fernandez, E., & Beck, R. (2001). Cognitive-behavioral self-intervention versus self-monitoring of anger: Effects on anger frequency, duration, and intensity. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 29(3), 345-356.