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Self-Criticism Self-Monitoring Record

Self-monitoring of thoughts, feelings, and symptoms is an essential skill in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This Self-Criticism Self-Monitoring Record is an excellent introduction to the process of identifying self-critical thoughts and the emotions and behaviors triggered by them.

Self-monitoring is a fundamental tool in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Self-monitoring can be used to:

  • Identify negative automatic thoughts (NATs)
  • Help clients understand the links between thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and responses

This Self-Criticism Self-Monitoring Record is designed to help clients to better understand their self-critical thoughts and responses.

  1. Clients should be instructed to record specific instances in which self-critical 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
  2. In the second column (Self-critical 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 people laughing at me”) clients should be directed to question what that image means to them (e.g “It means I’m a failure”) and to record that idiosyncratic meaning. They should be encouraged to rate their degree of conviction in the self-critical thought (0% = not at all, 100% = completely).
  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. sad, angry, disappointed) 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 (Responses) clients should be instructed to record what they did in response to the self-critical thought and feeling. Did they make efforts to express or suppress it? Did they respond overtly (e.g. left a situation) or covertly (e.g. berated self mentally)?
  • Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: Guilford.
  • Fennell, M. (2016). Overcoming low self-esteem: A self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques. Hachette UK.

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