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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 Challenging Record used the metaphor of a Court Trial to aid the process of examining evidence for and against a position.

This Court Trial Thought Challenging Record is designed to help clients to challenge their negative automatic thoughts. It uses the metaphor of a court trial, with a defence barrister (defending the truthfulness of the negative thought) and a prosecution barrister (attempting to undermine the truthfulness of the negative thought). Once clients have examined a thought from these perspectives they are encouraged to give a verdict (generate a balanced thought which fairly and dispassionately represents all of the evidence presented).

  1. In the first box (Put your thought in the dock) clients are encouraged to identify a specific negative thought that has been troubling them.
  2. In the second box (Defence) clients should be directed to identify any evidence which supports the truthfulness of the negative thought. They should be encouraged to take the perspective of a defence barrister whose job it is to convince the jury that the negative thought is true.
  3. In the third box (Prosecution) clients should be directed to take the perspective of a prosecution barrister, whose job it is to undermine the credibility of the negative thought, and to present evidence which supports alternative points of view.
  4. The fourth box (Jury) explains that the jury’s job is to dispassionately consider the evidence that has been presented.
  5. The fifth box (Verdict) encourages clients to reconsider their negative thought in light of the evidence presented by the defence and prosecution.
  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.

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