Self-monitoring is a fundamental tool in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Self-monitoring can be used to:
- Identify automatic thoughts
- Help clients understand the links between thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and responses
This Simple Self-Monitoring Record is designed to help clients to better understand their thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and responses.
- Clients should be instructed to record specific instances in which anxious thoughts, feelings, or responses were prompted.
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
- In the second column (Thought) 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 imagined them laughing at me when I had left”) clients should be directed to question what that image means to them (e.g “It means I’m stupid and unlikable”) and to record that idiosyncratic meaning.
- In the third column (Emotions or feeling) clients should be instructed to record the emotional reactions that caught their attention in that moment (which can typically be described using single words, e.g. anxious, sad, disgusted) and and associated body feelings (e.g. tightness in my stomach). Clients should be encouraged to rate the intensity of these sensations on 0–100% scale.
- In the fourth column (Response) clients should be instructed to record what they did in response to the thoughts and feelings. Did they make efforts to express or suppress how they felt? Did they respond overtly (e.g. safety behaviour) or covertly (e.g. self-reassurance)?
- Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.