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Prompts For Challenging Negative Thinking (Archived)

NOTE: An improved version of this resource is available here: Prompts For Challenging Negative Thinking. Older versions of a resource may be archived in the event that they are available in multiple languages, or where data indicates that the resource continues to be frequently used by clinicians.

The CBT model proposes that how we think affects the way we feel. Challenging our unhelpful thoughts (cognitive restructuring) is an essential skill which takes practice. The Prompts For Challenging Negative Thinking information handout guides individuals through a series of helpful questions.

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Professional version

A PDF of the resource, theoretical background, suggested therapist questions and prompts.

Client version

A PDF of the resource plus client-friendly instructions where appropriate.

Editable version (PPT)

An editable Microsoft PowerPoint version of the resource.


Languages this resource is available in

  • English (GB)
  • English (US)
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Portuguese (European)
  • Spanish (International)
  • Urdu
  • Welsh

Techniques associated with this resource

Mechanisms associated with this resource

Introduction & Theoretical Background

Cognitive restructuring / challenging overly negative thinking is a core cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique. It is often taught to clients in the context of monitoring automatic thoughts. Clients may have habitual (biased) ways of analysing situations and often benefit from being taught ways of thinking more flexibly. This Prompts For Challenging Negative Thinking handout provides some prompts and questions to trigger alternative perspectives.

Therapist Guidance

This client information handout can be used in session as prompts to explore negative thinking, or can be given to clients to facilitate their process of analysing specific thoughts. Clients can be instructed to identify a specific thought to be challenged, and then work through the prompts (e.g. considering the thought which is causing distress and asking “Ten years from now, if I look back on this situation, will I look at it any differently?”).

References And Further Reading

  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.
  • Greenberger, D., Padesky, C. (1995). Mind over mood: Change how you feel by changing the way you think. New York: Guilford Press.