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Prompts For Challenging Negative Thinking

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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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.


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 working 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?”).


  • 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.