• Last edited on September 9, 2020

Homework in CBT

Table of contents, why do homework in cbt, how to deliver homework, strategies to increase confidence.

Homework assignments in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help your patients educate themselves further, collect thoughts, and modify their thinking.

Homework is not something that you just assign randomly. You should make sure you:

  • tailor the homework to the patient
  • provide a rationale for why the patient needs to do the homework
  • uncover any obstacles that might prevent homework from being done (i.e. - busy work schedule, significant neurovegetative symptoms)

Types of homework

Types of homework assignments.

You should also decide the frequency of the homework should be assigned: should it be daily, weekly?

If your patient does not do homework, that’s OK! Explore as a team, in a non-judgmental way, to explore why the homework was not done. Here are some ways to increase adherence to homework:

  • Tailor the assignments to the individual
  • Provide a rationale for how and why the assignment might help
  • Determine the homework collaboratively
  • Try to start the homework during the session. This creates some momentum to continue doing the homework
  • Set up systems to remember to do the assignments (phone reminders, sticky notes
  • It is better to start with easier homework assignments and err on the side of caution
  • They should be 90-100% confident they will be able to do this assignment
  • Covert rehearsal - running through a thought experiment on a situation
  • Change the assignment - It is far better to substitute an easier homework assignment that patients are likely to do than to have them establish a habit of not doing what they had agreed to in session
  • Intellectual/emotional role play - “I’ll be the intellectual part of you; you be the emotional part. You argue as hard as you can against me so I can see all the arguments you’re using not to read your coping cards and start studying. You start.”

cbt homework ideas

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  • Sep 15, 2021
  • 10 min read

10 Top CBT Worksheets for Learning Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

These worksheets cover the most important skills from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT worksheets and other therapy worksheets work great for teens, adults, therapy groups, and telehealth.

The magic of CBT worksheets is that they take vague concepts and make them real.

Ironically, you need to do more than think about CBT -- your skills must be put into practice!

CBT worksheets help teach and reinforce skills learned in therapy. They are often used by therapists specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy and related treatments.

Below are the 10 top CBT worksheets focused on dealing with anxiety, restructuring thoughts, and addressing trauma and fears.

They can help treat issues like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, depression, and more.

Need resources right away? Skip ahead to here take a look at the CBT for anxiety and PTSD bundle.

CBT worksheets use strategies like challenging distorted thinking and addressing negative feelings towards yourself. This infographic includes a set of CBT worksheets that also come in a workbook format.

Article Contents:

1. cbt triangle worksheet.

2. Challenging Thoughts Worksheets

3. Anxiety Management Worksheet

4. Strong Emotions Worksheet

5. Trauma-Focused CBT Worksheet

6. Exposure Hierarchy

7. Trauma Narrative

9 . Emotions Wheel Worksheet

10. Mindfulness Worksheet

CBT worksheets and tools are typically very structured, and follow the cognitive behavioral therapy approach. The basic idea of CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy , is that patterns of thinking impact everything else. How we think about things can make life better or worse, regardless of the circumstances.

Our thoughts influence our feelings, which lead to our behaviors. The printable worksheets below start with the basic approach and expand into specialized areas, such as using CBT to treat PTSD.

Here are 10 top CBT worksheets focused on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Learn and teach thoughts, behaviors and feelings with this free CBT triangle worksheet.

The CBT triangle is a commonly used tool to describe the basic principles of this therapy. This worksheet walks you step by step through the most basic process of CBT. It includes examples as well as space to write your own thoughts and begin to challenge them.

The cognitive (CBT) triangle came out of the early work of Aaron Beck, who developed CBT. He noticed that many people in therapy continued to suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, even as therapy progressed.

He termed the phrase “automatic thoughts,” to describe the thinking pattern many people experience. Most significantly, Dr. Beck found that how people thought about a situation resulted in how they experienced it, regardless of the situation itself.

Most significantly, Dr. Beck found that how people thought about a situation resulted in how they experienced it, regardless of the situation itself.

For example, someone may be running late for work. If they begin to think about getting fired and all of the things that would result from that, they might feel panicked or frustrated, and start driving erratically.

This diagram of the CBT triangle shows the three points of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Alternatively, the same person may think differently, coaching themselves in a positive way. They may think, “I rarely run late, and my boss is very understanding, so it will be okay.”

With this change in thinking, they are likely to think more clearly and avoid feeling anxious. They may then calmly text their boss and drive carefully but efficiently toward work.

This process demonstrates the event (running late), the thought (catastrophizing versus positive self-talk) and the behavior (erratic driving versus planning).

Shop CBT triangle worksheet.

2. Challenging Thoughts Worksheet

This CBT worksheet focuses on reframing thoughts. It addresses cognitive distortions, and walks the user through how to change a particular thought.

The challenging thoughts worksheet is a cognitive restructuring worksheet. It walks you through challenging everyday negative thoughts, at a bit of a deeper level than the CBT triangle. It can also be an alternative format to learning the triangle.

Negative thoughts are sometimes called core beliefs, Negative core beliefs are thoughts that tend to pervade our everyday lives. They’re the “issues,” or “triggers,” you just can’t seem to get over. While most negative core beliefs are also distorted beliefs, the reverse isn’t necessarily true.

Negative core beliefs tend to involve shame, and how the person feels about themselves as a whole. This often relates to their abilities and worthiness.

For example, a basic distorted belief might be, “I’ll never pass my algebra class,” while a negative core belief might state, “I’m too stupid to succeed at anything.”

Once you understand the basics of CBT, the next step is to begin to challenge specific thoughts that happen regularly. For example, someone may think, “I mess everything up,” or “I can’t keep any friends.” These thoughts become a habit, and are likely to affect self-esteem, and even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because someone thinks they can’t keep friends, they stop trying to make them.

This worksheet keeps these thought patterns in mind, and help the user begin to challenge these beliefs. Terms often used include “stuck points,” “cognitive distortions,” or “negative thoughts.”

Shop challenging thoughts worksheet.

This worksheet covers how to cope with anxiety symptoms. Understand what your triggers are, and develop a set of coping skills.

While there are multiple types of anxiety conditions, all of them relate to our thoughts. Meanwhile, many CBT therapists start with anxiety management skills. These include steps like mindfulness or self-soothing.

This anxiety management worksheet includes multiple ideas to deal with anxiety, as well as a page to outline your plan for future anxiety spells.

Ongoing anxiety is usually caused by thinking patterns. Ruminating thoughts, catastrophizing, and assuming the worst are common symptoms of multiple conditions. These thought patterns, combined with the hypervigilance that come along with them, can make it difficult to cope day to day.

These anxious thoughts are common, and likely originate from the human need to prepare for the worst and avoid danger. After all, if our ancestors hadn’t been a bit paranoid we may not be here today.

However, frequently thinking negatively can lead to overwhelming anxiety and nearly constant feelings of anxiety. Anxiety worksheets can help with coping while also addressing the root thoughts that perpetuate these fears.

Shop anxiety management worksheet.

4. Dealing With Strong Emotions Worksheet

cbt homework ideas

Strong feelings can be overwhelming. This guide takes a look at how to rate, ride out, or cope with difficult emotions.

For example, if your emotion is simply uncomfortable, it's usually best to wait it out and allow the feeling to move through you. Otherwise it's likely to just keep coming back.

If a feeling is more significant and seems to interfere with your daily life, it may be best to work with a therapist on processing the emotion. Sometimes it's good to face the feeling head on, which will allow your body to learn the difference between the worry about danger and actual danger.

For example, worrying about danger might be thinking about a dog attacking you. It could cause your nervous system to become really alarmed, not realizing that there's no dog in sight.

By staying with that fear, your body will have the experience of getting to the other side and start to figure out that the fear is a feeling and not an event.

In other cases, if you have a history or pattern of self-harm, it's best to work closely with a therapist so you can fine-tune your plan. In some cases you may want to face your emotions while in other cases you may need some soothing to get through the moment.

This CBT worksheet on dealing with strong emotions is a great resource for therapists and their clients to work on feelings together.

Shop strong emotions worksheet.

This CBT worksheet for PTSD covers cognitive distortions, or stuck points, related to PTSD. It’s appropriate for CPT (cognitive processing therapy) or TF-CBT for teens or adults.

This worksheet is created for trauma focused CBT Therapies. It includes the most common steps used in therapies like TF-CBT (trauma-focused CBT) and CPT (cognitive processing therapy).

Many people think of PTSD as simply a result of trauma. While trauma is at the core of it, it goes beyond that. The majority of people experience trauma at some point. At first, it causes feelings of worry, confusion, and sometimes self-blame for what happened.

However, within a few weeks to a month, most people come to terms with what happened. They understand that the trauma was an isolated event, and that there wasn’t anything they could do to change it.

A percentage of people, however, aren’t able to get through this process. This could be due to still being in danger, to past trauma complicating their ability to process, or simply having too much going on to deal with it initially.

This lack of processing leads to “stuck points,” or cognitive distortions relating to the trauma. They typically run along the lines of people blaming themselves, or feeling they can’t deal with difficulties in the world.

The most effective trauma therapies all deal with processing of the traumatic event, and this worksheet walks through the typical steps.

Shop the trauma thoughts worksheet.

6. Exposure Hierarchy Worksheet

This worksheet includes a client-friendly version of the anxiety, or exposure hierarchy. This method is commonly used in CBT. It also includes a homework page for exposure sessions.

Many people develop avoidance as a way to deal with anxiety, phobias, and PTSD. An exposure hierarchy helps people measure which fears are the worst, and how they progress over time.

This worksheet includes a simple but effective way to create an exposure hierarchy, as well as homework sheets to record your exposure activities.

Exposure, or fear, hierarchies are commonly used in CBT, CPT, and TF-CBT therapies.

Fears are sometimes measured by numbers, called SUDS (subjective units of distress). Over time the fear is tracked, to see if it becomes better or worse.

Most often, exposure hierarchies are used along with homework assignments to help people face their fears. This exposure helps them overcome avoidance that may be interfering with their daily life.

The avoidance hierarchy worksheet includes the basic steps to get started.

Shop the exposure hierarchy worksheet.

The trauma narrative is an activity that involved writing down your memories of your trauma. It’s a tool to help people face fears and overcome avoidance of memories, so they can process and heal them.

The trauma narrative is a technique commonly used in therapies like cognitive processing therapy (CPT), or trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT). This worksheet is written with the client in mind, and should generally be used under the direction of a trained therapist.

A trauma narrative is sometimes used as a part of cognitive behavioral PTSD therapies. It involves writing about memories of a difficult situation.

When someone is experiencing PTSD, it's because their brain is confusing the memory of a bad event with the actual event. Your brain continues to think about what happened, and it keeps your brain on high alert, creating a cycle.

One of the ways to interrupt that process is to write about the difficult memories so that you can integrate them into your life, rather than continue to re-experience them. As mentioned, it's recommended that you work through a trauma narrative as part of trauma-focused CBT therapy.

Shop the trauma narrative worksheet.

8. Kids Anger Worksheet

The kids anger worksheets follow the concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy and work great with treatments such as TF-CBT for kids.

One of the most common struggle kids deal with are angry outbursts . This is because they haven't had the time to understand and learn how to cope with strong emotions.

Although it doesn't say it outright, this set of kids anger worksheets address the CBT triangle. It uses the anger iceberg as a way to illustrate feelings underlying anger.

It actually is a set of three worksheets covering identifying emotions, recognizing harmful behaviors, and creating more positive behaviors. The worksheets are kid-friendly and work well with TF-CBT therapy for kids.

Shop the kids anger worksheets.

9. Emotions Wheel Worksheet

Emotions wheels can help with the "feelings" part of the CBT triangle. This kit includes multiple versions with coping skills.

Emotions are a sometimes overlooked part of CBT treatment. Sometimes people think they should or shouldn't be having certain feelings . They might also be unsure of what they're feeling and when.

However, feelings worksheets help with recognizing, regulating, and coping with emotions. This makes it easier to move into the next step of recognizing how thoughts can relate to ongoing emotional struggles.

Common difficult emotions relating to anxiety, depression, or trauma include:



The emotions wheel set includes multiple handouts and worksheets based on feelings wheels. It covers both comfortable and uncomfortable emotions like those above. It also has sections that recognize the physical sensations of emotions, and sections to create your own emotional coping wheel.

Shop the emotions wheel worksheets.

10. Mindfulness for CBT Worksheet

This worksheet includes the grounding stone acticitu which helps with anxiety, mindfulness, and stress.

New waves of cognitive therapies, including CBT, incorporate mindfulness. It's an important part of the regulating step, and helps you soothe the flight-or fight response.

It can also make it easier to move onto the next steps of recognizing thoughts and emotions. When your brain is in survival mode it can be difficult to work through challenging thoughts or exposure techniques.

Mindfulness takes it down a notch, much like medication would. It also is a great skill in and of itself, and can prevent mental health, and even some physical conditions, down the road.

Shop the mindfulness worksheet.

CBT Therapy Worksheet Bundle

Over the years, I've found that many of the same strategies overlap for conditions like anxiety and PTSD. At the same time, there are some additional steps necessary when processing trauma. I've bundled all of my related pages into this set .

This bundle includes 8 CBT worksheets for therapy, students, and individual use. They cover topics of anxiety, PTSD, trauma distortions, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

More CBT Resources

In addition to worksheets, CBT-based games can be a great way to teach important concepts. Here's a list of some of our other activities. You can find them all together in our Giant Store Bundle .

CBT Coping Jeopardy-Like Game

If you're looking for a fun, interactive game for classrooms or telehealth, check this out! It covers many of the CBT concepts in the worksheets. It's a great way to reinforce all of the concepts you're learning. Learn more.

CBT Lingo (Bingo-Like Game)

CBT Lingo is a fun, interactive, educational game that helps you teach concepts of CBT. It goes beyond the typical "novelty" cards often created for therapy and other classroom games. The game is compatible with real bingo, so you can actually "call" the game with numbers, either in-person or via telehealth.

CBT Lingo, which works similar to bingo, includes 75 prompts focused on topics like thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and skills used in cognitive behavioral therapy. It has various options, so it works with teens, college students, and adults.

It can even help with teaching CBT concepts to therapy students.

Here are some sample prompts included in the game:

What does all or nothing thinking mean?

What's one physical symptom of anxiety?

What are the three points of the CBT triangle?

What is ruminating?

Want to give it a go? You can download and use it in-person or via telehealth. Get more details here.

CBT Quest Board Game

CBT board games are another less intimidating way to teach skills. This downloadable board game , called CBT quest, can be printed and used in person, or adapted for online use. It includes 32 prompts with reusable questions, such as:

Give an example of a challenging thought

Describe or show a grounding technique

Describe or name a cognitive distortion

Interested in trying this fun activity? Download it here.

Finding Peace from PTSD Book

If you're working specifically with PTSD, this book is helpful. It lays out the most common strategies used in trauma-focused CBT therapies. Such therapies include:

Prolonged Exposure

Cognitive Processing Therapy

Trauma-Focused CBT

The book was also created to go along with the worksheets in the CBT for PTSD and Anxiety bundle, so the two make great companions! Learn more about the book.

Obviously games and worksheets can’t replace other types of therapy. However, these tools can help you learn to identify thinking patterns, challenge everyday negative thoughts, question your anxiety thoughts, and understand your thoughts relating to PTSD.

For more helpful tools, download it all with our giant store bundle. It includes all of the activities above plus many more great resources .

Sources: Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 2021, https://beckinstitute.org/

Chand SP, Kuckel DP, Huecker MR. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. [Updated 2021 Jul 26]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan.

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Empower Your Clients: Effective Therapy Homework Ideas Unveiled

The power of therapy homework, what is therapy homework.

Therapy homework refers to assignments or tasks that are given to clients by therapists, psychologists, coaches, or practitioners as part of the therapeutic process. These assignments are designed to be completed outside of therapy sessions and are tailored to address specific therapeutic goals and objectives.

Therapy homework can take various forms, depending on the therapeutic approach and the client’s needs. It may involve activities such as journaling, practicing mindfulness exercises, completing worksheets or thought records, engaging in self-reflection, or working on specific skills. The purpose of therapy homework is to actively involve clients in their own healing process and empower them to take ownership of their growth and development.

Benefits of Assigning Therapy Homework

Assigning therapy homework offers numerous benefits for both clients and therapists. Some of the key advantages include:

  • Continuity and Reinforcement : Therapy homework provides an opportunity for clients to reinforce and apply what they have learned in therapy sessions to their daily lives. It helps to bridge the gap between sessions, ensuring that progress continues beyond the therapy room.
  • Active Engagement : Engaging in therapy homework encourages clients to actively participate in their treatment. It promotes a sense of agency and responsibility, empowering clients to take an active role in their own healing journey.
  • Skill Development : Therapy homework allows clients to practice and develop new skills, strategies, and coping mechanisms in real-life situations. It helps to reinforce positive changes and build resilience.
  • Generalization of Learning : Through therapy homework, clients have the opportunity to generalize the insights gained in therapy to different contexts and relationships. It supports the transfer of therapeutic gains into their day-to-day lives.
  • Increased Self-Awareness : Therapy homework often involves self-reflection and introspection, which can deepen clients’ self-awareness and understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This increased self-awareness can be a catalyst for personal growth and transformation.
  • Collaborative Process : Assigning therapy homework fosters a collaborative therapeutic relationship between clients and therapists. It encourages open communication, feedback, and discussion, leading to a more effective and tailored treatment approach.

By incorporating therapy homework into the therapeutic process, therapists can enhance the effectiveness of their interventions and facilitate meaningful change in their clients’ lives.

To explore therapy homework ideas for different therapeutic needs, refer to our articles on  therapy homework assignments ,  therapy homework for anxiety ,  therapy homework for depression , and many more.

Finding the Right Therapy Homework Ideas

When it comes to assigning therapy homework,  tailoring  the activities to each individual client is essential for maximizing their engagement and progress. By customizing the homework, therapists can address specific needs and help clients work towards their therapeutic goals. Additionally, incorporating the client’s  goals and interests  into the assignments can enhance motivation and make the process more enjoyable.

Tailoring Homework to the Client

To ensure the therapy homework is effective, it’s crucial to consider the unique characteristics and preferences of each client. Tailoring the assignments involves taking into account factors such as the client’s age, cultural background, learning style, and personal circumstances.

For example, if a client is struggling with anxiety, it may be beneficial to assign homework that focuses on relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. On the other hand, a client who is working on building assertiveness skills may benefit from practicing role-plays or assertiveness exercises outside of therapy sessions.

By tailoring the therapy homework to the client’s specific needs and challenges, therapists can provide targeted support and facilitate progress towards their therapeutic goals. For more ideas on therapy homework assignments, check out our article on  therapy homework assignments .

Incorporating Client Goals and Interests

Incorporating the client’s goals and interests into therapy homework is an effective way to increase motivation and engagement. By aligning the assignments with the client’s aspirations, they are more likely to be actively involved in the therapeutic process.

For example, if a client is working towards improving their self-esteem, therapy homework could involve engaging in self-affirmation exercises or creating a self-compassion journal. If a client is interested in mindfulness, incorporating mindfulness exercises and  meditation  into the homework can be highly beneficial.

By connecting the therapy homework to the client’s personal goals and interests, therapists can foster a sense of ownership and investment in the therapeutic journey. This approach helps to create a more meaningful and impactful therapeutic experience.

Remember, therapy homework is most effective when it is tailored to the client’s individual needs and incorporates their goals and interests. By taking these factors into account, therapists can empower their clients to actively engage in their own healing process.

Therapy Homework Ideas for Different Needs

When it comes to therapy homework, tailoring the assignments to the unique needs of each client is essential. This ensures that the homework aligns with their therapeutic goals and interests. In this section, we will explore therapy homework ideas for different needs, including  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques ,  mindfulness and meditation exercises ,  journaling and writing prompts , and  creative expressive arts activities .

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Techniques

CBT techniques are widely used in therapy to help individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns and behaviors. Assigning CBT-based homework can provide clients with practical tools to challenge unhelpful thoughts and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Some therapy homework ideas for CBT may include:

  • Thought Records : Encourage clients to keep a thought record where they write down and examine their negative thoughts, identify cognitive distortions, and reframe them with more realistic and positive alternatives.
  • Behavioral Experiments : Suggest clients engage in real-life experiments to test the validity of their negative beliefs and assumptions, helping them gather evidence to challenge and modify those beliefs.
  • Activity Scheduling : Encourage clients to create a schedule of activities that promote positive emotions, engagement, and a sense of accomplishment. This can help them break the cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors.

To discover more therapy homework ideas for specific topics or concerns, such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, or assertiveness, check out our article on  therapy homework assignments .

Mindfulness and Meditation Exercises

Mindfulness and meditation exercises can be valuable homework assignments to help clients develop present-moment awareness, reduce stress, and cultivate emotional well-being. Some therapy homework ideas for mindfulness and meditation include:

  • Breathing Exercises : Encourage clients to practice deep breathing exercises, focusing on their breath as it enters and leaves their body. This can help promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
  • Body Scan Meditation : Suggest clients engage in a body scan meditation, guiding their attention from head to toe, paying attention to physical sensations and releasing tension.
  • Mindful Eating : Encourage clients to practice mindful eating by fully engaging their senses, savoring each bite, and paying attention to the tastes, textures, and smells of their food.

For more mindfulness and meditation exercises, along with guided scripts, consider referring to our article on  therapy homework for mindfulness .

Journaling and Writing Prompts

Journaling and writing prompts can be effective tools for self-reflection, emotional expression, and personal growth. Assigning writing exercises as therapy homework allows clients to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a safe and structured way. Some therapy homework ideas for journaling and writing prompts include:

  • Gratitude Journal : Encourage clients to keep a gratitude journal, writing down three things they are grateful for each day. This practice can help shift their focus towards positive aspects of their lives.
  • Letter Writing: Suggest clients write a letter to themselves, expressing self-compassion , forgiveness, or encouragement. This can be a powerful exercise for promoting self-acceptance and self-care.
  • Emotional Release Writing : Encourage clients to engage in free-writing, allowing their thoughts and emotions to flow onto the paper without judgment or self-censorship. This can be a cathartic exercise for emotional processing.

To explore more journaling and writing prompts for therapy homework, consider referring to our article on  therapy homework for journaling .

Creative Expressive Arts Activities

Engaging in creative expressive arts activities can provide clients with a unique and alternative way to explore their emotions, enhance self-expression, and gain insights into their inner world. Some therapy homework ideas for creative expressive arts activities include:

  • Art Therapy : Encourage clients to engage in art therapy exercises, such as drawing, painting, or collaging, to express their emotions and access their subconscious mind.
  • Music Therapy : Suggest clients create a playlist of songs that resonate with their emotions and help them process their feelings, or encourage them to engage in music improvisation as a form of expression.
  • Drama Therapy : Encourage clients to engage in role-playing exercises or create and act out scenes to explore different perspectives and gain insights into their own experiences.

For additional therapy homework ideas for creative expressive arts activities, refer to our article on  therapy homework for self-expression .

By incorporating therapy homework ideas that align with the specific needs and interests of each client, therapists can empower their clients to actively participate in their own healing journey and make progress towards their therapeutic goals.

Implementing Effective Therapy Homework

To ensure the effectiveness of therapy homework assignments, it is crucial to follow certain guidelines. This section will discuss three key aspects of implementing effective therapy homework:  providing clear instructions ,  setting realistic expectations , and  encouraging accountability and follow-up .

Providing Clear Instructions

When assigning therapy homework, it is essential to provide your clients with clear and concise instructions. Clearly outline the purpose of the assignment, the specific tasks or exercises involved, and any guidelines or resources they may need. Using simple and straightforward language will help ensure that your clients understand what is expected of them.

Additionally, consider providing written instructions or  therapy homework worksheets  that your clients can refer to as they complete their assignments. This will serve as a helpful reminder and guide, increasing the likelihood of successful completion.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic expectations is crucial when assigning therapy homework. Take into account your clients’ individual circumstances, such as their available time, resources, and personal commitments. Tailor the assignments to their specific needs and abilities to ensure they can be realistically accomplished within the given timeframe.

By setting achievable goals, you will motivate your clients and increase their confidence in their ability to complete the assignments. This, in turn, will enhance their engagement and overall progress during therapy.

Encouraging Accountability and Follow-up

Encouraging accountability and follow-up is essential for effective therapy homework. Regularly check in with your clients to inquire about their progress and address any challenges or questions they may have. This demonstrates your support and commitment to their growth.

Encourage your clients to keep a record of their experiences, insights, or reflections related to their therapy homework. This can be in the form of a journal, a digital document, or even a dedicated  therapy homework app  that allows them to track their progress and thoughts.

By reviewing their completed assignments and discussing their experiences during therapy sessions, you can provide valuable feedback and insights. This feedback will reinforce their efforts and help them integrate their learnings into their daily lives.

Remember to offer encouragement and praise for your clients’ hard work and dedication. Celebrate their achievements, no matter how small, as it will motivate them to continue their therapeutic journey.

As you implement these strategies for effective therapy homework, you will empower your clients to actively engage in their healing process. Providing clear instructions, setting realistic expectations, and encouraging accountability and follow-up will ensure that therapy homework becomes a valuable tool for their growth and progress.

Enhancing Client Engagement

When it comes to therapy homework,  client engagement  is vital for effective progress and positive outcomes. Building a supportive relationship, offering feedback and encouragement, and addressing challenges and concerns are key elements in fostering client engagement .

Building a Supportive Relationship

Establishing a supportive and trusting relationship with clients is essential for effective therapy. Creating a safe and non-judgmental environment allows clients to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Actively listening, demonstrating empathy, and validating their feelings are effective ways to build rapport and foster a strong therapeutic alliance.

By developing a supportive relationship, clients are more likely to engage in therapy homework willingly and openly. They will feel understood, respected, and motivated to actively participate in their therapeutic journey.

Offering Feedback and Encouragement

Providing feedback and encouragement throughout the therapy process can significantly enhance client engagement. Regularly acknowledging their progress, recognizing their efforts, and celebrating their achievements can boost their motivation and self-confidence.

Offering constructive feedback that highlights their strengths and areas of improvement can help clients gain valuable insights. It’s essential to provide feedback in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner, ensuring that clients feel supported and encouraged to continue their growth.

Addressing Challenges and Concerns

Therapy is not always a smooth journey, and clients may encounter challenges or have concerns along the way. As a therapist, it is crucial to address these issues promptly and effectively. Actively listen to their concerns, validate their emotions, and work collaboratively to find solutions.

By addressing challenges and concerns, clients will feel heard and supported, which promotes their engagement in therapy. Whether it’s modifying therapy homework assignments, exploring different strategies, or adjusting treatment goals, adapting the therapy process to meet their specific needs can enhance client engagement and overall therapeutic outcomes.

Remember, client engagement is a dynamic process that requires ongoing attention and effort. By building a supportive relationship, offering feedback and encouragement, and addressing challenges and concerns, therapists can empower their clients and create a collaborative therapeutic environment. This environment promotes active engagement in therapy homework and facilitates positive change.

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CBT Worksheets, Handouts, And Skills-Development Audio: Therapy Resources for Mental Health Professionals

CBT Worksheets, Handouts, And Skills-Development Audio: Therapy Resources for Mental Health Professionals

Resource type

Therapy tool.

cbt homework ideas

"Should" Statements

Information handouts.

A Guide To Emotions (Psychology Tools For Living Well)

A Guide To Emotions (Psychology Tools For Living Well)

Books & Chapters

A Memory Of Caring For Others

A Memory Of Caring For Others

A Memory Of Feeling Cared For

A Memory Of Feeling Cared For



ABC Model

Activity Diary (Hourly Time Intervals)

Activity Diary (No Time Intervals)

Activity Diary (No Time Intervals)

Activity Menu

Activity Menu

Activity Planning

Activity Planning

Activity Selection

Activity Selection

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

All-Or-Nothing Thinking

Alternative Action Formulation

Alternative Action Formulation

Am I Experiencing Anorexia?

Am I Experiencing Anorexia?

Am I Experiencing Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

Am I Experiencing Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)?

Am I Experiencing Bulimia?

Am I Experiencing Bulimia?

Am I Experiencing Burnout?

Am I Experiencing Burnout?

Am I Experiencing Death Anxiety?

Am I Experiencing Death Anxiety?

Am I Experiencing Depersonalization And Derealization?

Am I Experiencing Depersonalization And Derealization?

Am I Experiencing Depression?

Am I Experiencing Depression?

Am I Experiencing Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Am I Experiencing Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Am I Experiencing Health Anxiety?

Am I Experiencing Health Anxiety?

Am I Experiencing Low Self-Esteem?

Am I Experiencing Low Self-Esteem?

Am I Experiencing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Am I Experiencing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Am I Experiencing Panic Attacks?

Am I Experiencing Panic Attacks?

Am I Experiencing Panic Disorder?

Am I Experiencing Panic Disorder?

Am I Experiencing Perfectionism?

Am I Experiencing Perfectionism?

Am I Experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Am I Experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

Am I Experiencing Psychosis?

Am I Experiencing Psychosis?

Am I Experiencing Social Anxiety?

Am I Experiencing Social Anxiety?

An Introduction To CBT (Psychology Tools For Living Well)

An Introduction To CBT (Psychology Tools For Living Well)

Anger - Self-Monitoring Record

Anger - Self-Monitoring Record

Anger Decision Sheet

Anger Decision Sheet

Anger Diary (Archived)

Anger Diary (Archived)

Anger Self-Monitoring Record (Archived)

Anger Self-Monitoring Record (Archived)

Anger Thought Challenging Record

Anger Thought Challenging Record

Anxiety - Self-Monitoring Record

Anxiety - Self-Monitoring Record

Anxiety Self-Monitoring Record (Archived)

Anxiety Self-Monitoring Record (Archived)

Approach Instead Of Avoiding (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Approach Instead Of Avoiding (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)



Arbitrary Inference

Arbitrary Inference

Assertive Communication

Assertive Communication

Assertive Responses

Assertive Responses

Attention - Self-Monitoring Record

Attention - Self-Monitoring Record

Attention Training Experiment

Attention Training Experiment

Attention Training Practice Record

Attention Training Practice Record

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Developing Self-Compassion

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Developing Self-Compassion

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Mindfulness

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Mindfulness

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Overcoming PTSD

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Overcoming PTSD

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Relaxation

Audio Collection: Psychology Tools For Relaxation

Autonomic Nervous System

Autonomic Nervous System

Avoidance Hierarchy (Archived)

Avoidance Hierarchy (Archived)


Barriers Abusers Overcome In Order To Abuse

Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty

Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty

Behavioral Activation Activity Diary

Behavioral Activation Activity Diary

Behavioral Activation Activity Planning Diary

Behavioral Activation Activity Planning Diary

Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral Experiment

Behavioral Experiment (Portrait Format)

Behavioral Experiment (Portrait Format)

Behaviors In Panic (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Behaviors In Panic (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Being A Compassionate Person

Being A Compassionate Person

Being With Difficulty (Audio)

Being With Difficulty (Audio)

Belief Driven Formulation

Belief Driven Formulation

Belief-O-Meter (CYP)

Belief-O-Meter (CYP)

Body Posture

Body Posture

Body Scan (Audio)

Body Scan (Audio)

Body Sensations In Panic (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Body Sensations In Panic (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Boundaries - Self-Monitoring Record

Boundaries - Self-Monitoring Record

Breathing To Activate Your Soothing System

Breathing To Activate Your Soothing System

Breathing To Calm The Body Sensations Of Panic (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Breathing To Calm The Body Sensations Of Panic (Psychology Tools For Overcoming Panic)

Broadening Your Perspective

Broadening Your Perspective



Catching Your Thoughts (CYP)

Catching Your Thoughts (CYP)

CBT Appraisal Model

CBT Appraisal Model

CBT Daily Activity Diary With Enjoyment And Mastery Ratings

CBT Daily Activity Diary With Enjoyment And Mastery Ratings

CBT Thought Record Portrait

CBT Thought Record Portrait

CFT Calm Place

CFT Calm Place

Challenging Your Negative Thinking (Archived)

Challenging Your Negative Thinking (Archived)

Changing Avoidance (Behavioral Activation)

Changing Avoidance (Behavioral Activation)

Checking Certainty And Doubt

Checking Certainty And Doubt

Checklist For Better Sleep

Checklist For Better Sleep

Classical Conditioning

Classical Conditioning

Coercive Methods For Enforcing Compliance

Coercive Methods For Enforcing Compliance

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Anorexia Nervosa (Fairburn, Cooper, Shafran, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Anorexia Nervosa (Fairburn, Cooper, Shafran, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD: Veale, 2004)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD: Veale, 2004)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Bulimia Nervosa (Fairburn, Cooper, Shafran, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Bulimia Nervosa (Fairburn, Cooper, Shafran, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Clinical Perfectionism (Shafran, Cooper, Fairburn, 2002)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Clinical Perfectionism (Shafran, Cooper, Fairburn, 2002)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Depersonalization (Hunter, Phillips, Chalder, Sierra, David, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Depersonalization (Hunter, Phillips, Chalder, Sierra, David, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Fear Of Body Sensations

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Fear Of Body Sensations

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD: Dugas, Gagnon, Ladouceur, Freeston, 1998)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD: Dugas, Gagnon, Ladouceur, Freeston, 1998)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Health Anxiety (Salkovskis, Warwick, Deale, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Health Anxiety (Salkovskis, Warwick, Deale, 2003)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Insomnia (Harvey, 2002)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Insomnia (Harvey, 2002)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Intolerance Of Uncertainty And Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms (Hebert, Dugas, 2019)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Intolerance Of Uncertainty And Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms (Hebert, Dugas, 2019)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Panic (Clark, 1986)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Panic (Clark, 1986)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD: Whalley, Cane, 2017)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness (PPPD: Whalley, Cane, 2017)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD: Ehlers & Clark, 2000)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD: Ehlers & Clark, 2000)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Social Phobia (Clark, Wells, 1995)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Social Phobia (Clark, Wells, 1995)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of The Relapse Process (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of The Relapse Process (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Tinnitus (McKenna, Handscombe, Hoare, Hall, 2014)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Tinnitus (McKenna, Handscombe, Hoare, Hall, 2014)

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Of Childhood OCD: It's Only A False Alarm: Therapist Guide

Cognitive Behavioral Treatment Of Childhood OCD: It's Only A False Alarm: Therapist Guide

Treatments That Work™

What is Psychology Tools?

Psychology Tools develops and publishes evidence-based psychotherapy resources and tools for mental health professionals. Our online library gives you access to everything you need to deliver more effective therapy and support your practice. With a wide range of topics and resource types covered, you can feel confident knowing you’ll always have a range of accessible and effective materials to support your clients, whatever challenges they are facing, whatever stage you are at, and however you work.

Choose from assessment and case formulations to psychoeducation, interventions and skills development, CBT worksheets, exercises, and much more. Our resources include detailed therapist guidance, references and instructions, so they are equally suitable for those with less experience but who want to expand their practice. Each resource explains how to work with the material most effectively, and how to use it with clients.

Are these resources suitable for you?

Psychology Tools is used by thousands of professionals all over the world as a key part of their practice and preparation, and our resources are designed to be used with clients who experience psychological difficulties or distress. Professionals who use our resources include:

  • Clinical, Counseling, and Practitioner Psychologists
  • Family Doctors / General Practitioners
  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers
  • Mental Health Nurses
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners
  • Psychotherapists
  • Therapists (CBT Therapists, ACT Therapists, DBT Therapists)

Psychology Tools resources are perfect for individuals, teams and students, whatever their preferred modality, or career stage.

What kinds of resources are available at Psychology Tools?

Psychology Tools offers a range of relatable, engaging, and evidence-based resources to ensure that your clients get the most out of therapy or counseling. Each resource has been carefully designed with accessibility in mind and is informed by best practice guidelines and the latest scientific research.

Therapeutic exercises are used in many evidence-based psychotherapies including cognitive behavioral therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy, compassion-focused therapy, schema therapy, emotion-focused therapy, systemic family-based therapies, and several others.

Therapists and counselors benefit from incorporating exercises into their work. They can be used to:

  • Introduce and explain key concepts.
  • Collect information about clients’ difficulties.
  • Bring therapeutic ideas to life.
  • Keep therapy active and engaging.
  • Alleviate distress and/or reduce problematic symptoms.
  • Practice new skills and coping strategies.
  • Develop new insights and self-awareness.
  • Give clients a sense of accomplishment and progress.

Psychology Tools offers a variety of exercises that you can use with your clients as a part of therapy or counseling. These interventions can be incorporated into your sessions, assigned as homework tasks, or used stand-alone interventions. Many of our exercises are either evidence-based (meaning they have been shown to effectively treat certain difficulties) or evidence-derived (meaning they form part of a treatment program that has been shown to effectively treat certain difficulties).

The exercises available at Psychology Tools have a variety of applications. You can use them to:

  • Develop case conceptualizations , formulations, and treatment plans.
  • Address specific difficulties, such as worry, insomnia, and self-focused attention.
  • Introduce clients to new skills, such as grounding , problem-solving, relaxation, and assertiveness .
  • Support key interventions, such as exposure and response prevention, safety planning with high-risk clients, and perspective-taking.
  • Plan treatments and prepare for supervision.

Psychology Tools exercises have been developed with practicality and convenience in mind. Most exercises include simple step-by-step instructions so that clients can use them independently or with the support of their therapist or counselor. In addition, therapist guidance is available for each exercise, which includes a detailed description of the task, relevant background information, an overview of its aims and potential uses in therapy, and simple instructions for its delivery. A comprehensive list of references is also provided so that you can access key studies and further your understanding of each exercise’s applications in psychotherapy.

Did you know that 40 – 80% of medical information is immediately forgotten by patients (Kessels, 2003)? The same is probably true of therapy and counseling, so clients will almost always benefit from having access to additional written information.

Psychology Tools information handouts provide clear, concise, and reliable information, which will empower your clients to take an active role in their treatment. Learning about their mental health, helpful strategies and techniques, and other psychoeducation topics helps clients better understand and overcome their difficulties. Moreover, clients who understand the process and content of therapy are more likely to invest in the process and commit to making positive changes.

Psychology Tools information handouts can help your clients:

  • Understand their difficulties and what keeps them going.
  • Learn what therapy is and how it works.
  • Understand what they are doing in therapy and why.
  • Remember and build upon what has been discussed during sessions.
  • Create a personalized collection of resources that can used between appointments.

Our illustrated information handouts cover a wide variety topics. Each has been informed by scientific evidence, best practice guidelines, and expert opinion, ensuring they are both credible and consistent with evidence-based therapies. Topics featured among these resources include:

  • ‘ What is… ’ handouts. These one-page resources provide a concise summary of common mental health problems (e.g., anxiety , depression , low self-esteem ), key therapeutic approaches (such as cognitive behavioral therapy, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing , and compassion-focused therapy), and psychological mechanisms which maintain the problem (such as worry and rumination ).
  • ‘ What keeps it going… ’ handouts. These handouts explain the key mechanisms that maintain difficulties such as burnout, panic disorder, PTSD, and perfectionism. You can use them to inform your case conceptualization or as a roadmap in therapy.
  • ‘ Recognizing… ’ handouts. These guides can help you identify and assess specific disorders, comparing key diagnostic criteria taken from leading diagnostic manuals.
  • Simple explanations of key psychological concepts, such as safety behaviors , psychological flexibility, thought suppression, and unhelpful thinking styles .
  • Overviews of important psychological theories, such as operant conditioning and exposure.

Each information handout comes with guidance written specifically for therapists and counselors. It provides suggestions for introducing psychoeducation topics, facilitating helpful discussions related to the handout, and ensuring the content is relevant to your clients.

Worksheets are a core ingredient of many evidence-based therapies such as CBT. Our worksheets take many forms (e.g., diaries, diagrams, activity planners, records, and questionnaires) and can be used throughout the course of therapy.

How you incorporate worksheets into therapy or counselling depends on each client’s difficulties, goals, and stage of recovery. You can use them to:

  • Assess and monitor clients’ difficulties.
  • Inform treatment plans and guide decision-making.
  • Teach clients new skills such as ‘self-monitoring’ or ‘thought challenging’.
  • Ensure that clients apply their learning in the real world.
  • Track their progress over time.
  • Help clients to take an active role in their recovery.

Clients also benefit from using worksheets. These tools can help them:

  • Become more aware of their difficulties.
  • Identify when, how, and why these problems occur.
  • Practice using new skills and techniques.
  • Express and explore difficult feelings.
  • Process difficult events.
  • Consolidate and integrate insights from therapy.
  • Support their self-reflection.
  • Feel empowered and build self-efficacy.

Psychology Tools offers a wide variety of worksheets. They include general forms that are widely applicable, disorder-specific worksheets, and logs that are used in specific therapies such as CBT , schema therapy, and compassion-focused therapy . These resources are typically available in editable or fillable formats, so that they can be tailored to your client’s needs and used in a flexible manner.

Guides & self-help

People want clear guidance on mental health, whether for themselves or a loved one.

Our ‘ Understanding… ’ series is designed to introduce common mental health difficulties such as depression, PTSD, or social anxiety. Each of these guide uses a clear and accessible structure so that readers can understand them without any prior therapy knowledge. Topics addressed in each guide include:

  • What the problem is.
  • How it arises.
  • Where it might come from.
  • What keeps it going.
  • How the problem can be treated.

Other guides address important topics such as trauma and dissociation, or the effects of perfectionism. They usually contain a mixture of psychoeducation, practical exercises and skills development. They promote knowledge, optimism, and positive action related to these difficulties, and have been informed by current research and evidence-based treatments, ensuring they are consistent with best practices.

Therapists can use Psychology Tools guides in several ways:

  • As a screening tool. Clients can read the guide to see if the difficulty or topic is relevant to them.
  • As psychoeducation. Each guide provides essential information related to the difficulty or topic so that client can develop a better understanding of it.
  • As self-help. Each guide describes key skills and techniques that can be used to overcome the difficulty.

Each guide contains informative illustrations, practical examples, and simple instructions so that clients can easily relate to the content and apply it to their difficulties.

Therapy audio

Audio exercises are a particularly convenient and engaging way help your clients and can add variety to your therapeutic toolkit. Psychology Tools audio resources can help your clients:

  • Augment and consolidate their learning in therapy.
  • Practice new techniques.
  • Integrate skills and practices into their daily lives.
  • Access additional support when they need it.
  • Create a sense a continuity between your meetings.

A variety of audio resources are available at Psychology Tools. Each one has been developed and recorded by highly experienced clinical psychologists and can be easily integrated into your therapeutic practice. Audio collections include:

  • Psychology Tools for Developing Self-Compassion
  • Psychology Tools for Relaxation
  • Psychology Tools for Mindfulness
  • Psychology Tools for Overcoming PTSD

Many of these audio resources are widely applicable (e.g., mindfulness-based tools), although problem-specific resources are also available (e.g., tools for overcoming PTSD). You can use these tools:

  • During your therapy sessions.
  • As a homework task for clients to complete.
  • As a stand-alone intervention or ongoing part of therapy.

Treatments That Work®

Authored by leading psychologists including David Barlow, Michelle Craske, and Edna Foa,  Treatments That Work ® is a series of workbooks based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Each pair of books in the series – therapist guide and workbook – contains step by step procedures for delivering evidence-based psychological interventions. Clinical illustrations and worksheets are provided throughout.

You can use these workbooks:

  • To plan treatment for a range of specific difficulties including depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, and substance use.
  • As a self-help intervention that you guide the client through during sessions.
  • As a supplement to therapy, which clients work through independently.
  • To consolidate the content of your sessions.
  • As an ongoing intervention at the end of treatment (e.g., for difficulties that haven’t been fully addressed).

Each book is available to download chapter-by-chapter, and Psychology Tools members with a currently active subscription to our ‘Complete’ plan are licensed to share copies with their clients.

Archived resources

We work hard to keep all resources up to date, so we regularly review and update our library. However, we understand that you might get used to a certain version of a resource as part of your workflow. Instead of removing older versions, we keep them in our archive so that you can still access them if you want to. We also clearly explain if an improved version is available, so you can choose which you prefer.

Series and ranges

As well as many topic-specific resources, we also publish a variety of ranges and series.    

  • The ‘What is…’ series. These one-page resources cover a range of common mental health problems. In client friendly language they provide a concise summary of the problem, what it can feel like, what maintains it and an overview of key evidence-based therapeutic approaches (e.g., CBT, EMDR, and compassion-focused therapy) to treatment.
  • The ‘What keeps it going…’ series . These are one-page diagrams that explain what tends to maintain common mental health conditions such as burnout, panic disorder, PTSD, and perfectionism. You can use them to inform your case conceptualization or as a roadmap in therapy. They provide a quick and easy way for clients to understand why their disorder persists and how it might be interrupted.
  • The ‘Recognizing…’ series can help you identify and assess specific disorders, comparing key diagnostic criteria from leading diagnostic manuals.
  • The ‘Understanding…’ series is a collection of psychoeducation guides for common mental health conditions. Friendly and explanatory, they are comprehensive sources of information for your clients. Concepts are explained in an easily digestible way with plenty of case examples and diagrams. Each guide covers symptoms, treatments and some key maintenance factors .
  • The ‘Guide to…’ resources give clients a deep dive into a condition or treatment approach. They cover a mixture of information, psychoeducation, practical exercises and skills development to help clients learn to manage their condition. Each of these guides offers psychoeducation about the topic alongside a range of practical exercises with clear instructions to help clients identify, monitor, and address their symptoms.
  • The ‘ Self-monitoring’ collection provides problem-specific records designed to help you and your clients get the most from this essential but often overlooked technique. Covering a broad range of conditions, these worksheets allow you to give clients a tool that is targeted to their experience, with relevant language and prompts.
  • The ‘Formulation’ series provides a client-friendly adaptation of cognitive behavioral models for disorders including panic, PTSD, and social anxiety. These useful tools can help you and your clients come to a shared understanding of their difficulties, and can help you to develop a roadmap for therapy.  

Multilingual library of translations

Did you know that Psychology Tools has the largest online, searchable library of multilingual therapy resources? We aim to make our resources accessible to everyone. With over 3500 resources across 70 languages, you can give clients resources in their native language, enabling a deeper understanding and engagement with the treatment process. Translations are carried out by specially selected professional translators with experience of psychology, and our pool of volunteer mental health professionals. We also make sure that the resource design is the same for each translated resource so that you can be confident you know what section you are looking at, even if you don’t speak the language.

Simply find the resource you want to use, then explore which languages that resource is available in, or you can see all the resources available in a particular language by using our search filters.  

What formats are the resources available in, and how can I use them?

People work in different ways. Our formats are designed to reflect that, so you can choose the style that suits how you and your client want to work. Psychology Tools resources are perfectly formatted to work whether you practice face to face, remotely, or use a blended approach.

  • Professional version. Designed for clinicians, this comprehensive option includes everything you need to use the resource confidently. As well as the resource, each PDF contains useful information, including therapist guidance explaining how to use the resource most effectively, descriptions that provide theoretical context, instructions, therapist prompts, and references. Some resources also include case examples and annotations where appropriate.
  • Client version.  This is a blank PDF of the resource, with client-friendly instructions where appropriate, but without the theoretical description. These are ideal for printing and using in-session, or giving to a client.
  • Fillable PDFs are great for clients who want to work with resources online instead of on paper. Your client can fill in and save the resource on a computer, before sending it back to you without the need for a printer. This format is also useful if you have remote sessions with clients and want to work through a resource on screen together.
  • Editable PowerPoint documents are useful if you want to make any changes to the resource structure, or personalize it for your client.
  • Editable Word documents are also useful if you want to make changes to the resource, and are more suited to printing.

How do we design our resources to support your practice?

Our resources are informed by evidence-based treatments, best practice guidelines, and the latest published research. They are written by highly experienced therapists and experts in mental health, ensuring they are effective and as up to date as possible. In addition, every resource goes through a rigorous peer review process to confirm they are accurate and easy to use.

Each resource is designed with both clients’ and therapists’ needs in mind. For clients, that means using clear, user-friendly language, as well as plenty of visual and case examples, illustrations, diagrams and vignettes that readers can relate to. They include information on how the resource can help them, how they should use it, and other useful tips.

We also include useful information and descriptions for clinicians to help them use the resource most effectively. The therapist versions of each resource contain therapist guidance, prompts, instructions, and full references. They outline how the resource can be used and what types of problems it could be helpful for.

  • Designed to make strong theory-practice links . We pay close attention to the theory underpinning our resources, which provides therapists with useful context and helps them make theory-practice links. Having a greater understanding of each tool ensures best practice.
  • One concept per page. Wherever possible, we create resources using the principle of one therapeutic concept per page, as this ensures that we have distilled the idea down to its essence. This makes each tool simple for therapists to communicate and easy for clients to grasp. We also pay close attention to visual layout and design, to make our resources as accessible as possible. Every resource aims to maximize clinical benefit and engagement, without overwhelming readers.
  • Action focused. Resources are designed to be interactive, collaborative and goal-focused, with prompts to facilitate self-monitoring of progress and goals.

How can I use this page?

This page is where you can explore all the resources in the Psychology Tools library. The different search filters on the left-hand side enable you to customize your search, depending on what you need. Materials are organized by resource type, problem, and therapy tool, though you can also filter by language or use the search box. You can find more detailed instructions for how to find resources here .  

Can I share resources directly with my clients?

If you have a paid Psychology Tools membership, you are licensed to share resources with clients in the course of your professional work. You can even email resources (even large audio collections) directly to your clients from our website. All emails are secure and encrypted, so it is a quick and easy way to save you time and facilitate clients’ self-practice.

What if I need more help?

We have a wide range of ‘ How-to’ guides and an FAQ in our help centre , which answers questions on how to use the library and tools, such as ‘ How do I download resources? ’ or ‘ How do I email resources to my clients directly from the website? ’.

Kessels, R. P. C. (2003). Patients’ memory for medical information . Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96 , 219-222.

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What Is Therapy Homework?

Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

cbt homework ideas

Dr. Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and a professor at Yeshiva University’s clinical psychology doctoral program.

cbt homework ideas

Astrakan Images / Getty Images

Types of Therapy That Involve Homework

If you’ve recently started going to therapy , you may find yourself being assigned therapy homework. You may wonder what exactly it entails and what purpose it serves. Therapy homework comprises tasks or assignments that your therapist asks you to complete between sessions, says Nicole Erkfitz , DSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker and executive director at AMFM Healthcare, Virginia.

Homework can be given in any form of therapy, and it may come as a worksheet, a task to complete, or a thought/piece of knowledge you are requested to keep with you throughout the week, Dr. Erkfitz explains.

This article explores the role of homework in certain forms of therapy, the benefits therapy homework can offer, and some tips to help you comply with your homework assignments.

Therapy homework can be assigned as part of any type of therapy. However, some therapists and forms of therapy may utilize it more than others.

For instance, a 2019-study notes that therapy homework is an integral part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) . According to Dr. Erkfitz, therapy homework is built into the protocol and framework of CBT, as well as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) , which is a sub-type of CBT.

Therefore, if you’re seeing a therapist who practices CBT or DBT, chances are you’ll regularly have homework to do.

On the other hand, an example of a type of therapy that doesn’t generally involve homework is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR is a type of therapy that generally relies on the relationship between the therapist and client during sessions and is a modality that specifically doesn’t rely on homework, says Dr. Erkfitz.

However, she explains that if the client is feeling rejuvenated and well after their processing session, for instance, their therapist may ask them to write down a list of times that their positive cognition came up for them over the next week.

"Regardless of the type of therapy, the best kind of homework is when you don’t even realize you were assigned homework," says Erkfitz.

Benefits of Therapy Homework

Below, Dr. Erkfitz explains the benefits of therapy homework.

It Helps Your Therapist Review Your Progress

The most important part of therapy homework is the follow-up discussion at the next session. The time you spend reviewing with your therapist how the past week went, if you completed your homework, or if you didn’t and why, gives your therapist valuable feedback on your progress and insight on how they can better support you.

It Gives Your Therapist More Insight

Therapy can be tricky because by the time you are committed to showing up and putting in the work, you are already bringing a better and stronger version of yourself than what you have been experiencing in your day-to-day life that led you to seek therapy.

Homework gives your therapist an inside look into your day-to-day life, which can sometimes be hard to recap in a session. Certain homework assignments keep you thinking throughout the week about what you want to share during your sessions, giving your therapist historical data to review and address.

It Helps Empower You

The sense of empowerment you can gain from utilizing your new skills, setting new boundaries , and redirecting your own cognitive distortions is something a therapist can’t give you in the therapy session. This is something you give yourself. Therapy homework is how you come to the realization that you got this and that you can do it.

"The main benefit of therapy homework is that it builds your skills as well as the understanding that you can do this on your own," says Erkfitz.

Tips for Your Therapy Homework

Below, Dr. Erkfitz shares some tips that can help with therapy homework:

  • Set aside time for your homework: Create a designated time to complete your therapy homework. The aim of therapy homework is to keep you thinking and working on your goals between sessions. Use your designated time as a sacred space to invest in yourself and pour your thoughts and emotions into your homework, just as you would in a therapy session .
  • Be honest: As therapists, we are not looking for you to write down what you think we want to read or what you think you should write down. It’s important to be honest with us, and yourself, about what you are truly feeling and thinking.
  • Practice your skills: Completing the worksheet or log are important, but you also have to be willing to put your skills and learnings into practice. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to trying new things so that you can report back to your therapist about whether what you’re trying is working for you or not.
  • Remember that it’s intended to help you: Therapy homework helps you maximize the benefits of therapy and get the most value out of the process. A 2013-study notes that better homework compliance is linked to better treatment outcomes.
  • Talk to your therapist if you’re struggling: Therapy homework shouldn’t feel like work. If you find that you’re doing homework as a monotonous task, talk to your therapist and let them know that your heart isn’t in it and that you’re not finding it beneficial. They can explain the importance of the tasks to you, tailor your assignments to your preferences, or change their course of treatment if need be.

"When the therapy homework starts 'hitting home' for you, that’s when you know you’re on the right track and doing the work you need to be doing," says Erkfitz.

A Word From Verywell

Similar to how school involves classwork and homework, therapy can also involve in-person sessions and homework assignments.

If your therapist has assigned you homework, try to make time to do it. Completing it honestly can help you and your therapist gain insights into your emotional processes and overall progress. Most importantly, it can help you develop coping skills and practice them, which can boost your confidence, empower you, and make your therapeutic process more effective.

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Conklin LR, Strunk DR, Cooper AA. Therapist behaviors as predictors of immediate homework engagement in cognitive therapy for depression . Cognit Ther Res . 2018;42(1):16-23. doi:10.1007/s10608-017-9873-6

Lebeau RT, Davies CD, Culver NC, Craske MG. Homework compliance counts in cognitive-behavioral therapy . Cogn Behav Ther . 2013;42(3):171-179. doi:10.1080/16506073.2013.763286

By Sanjana Gupta Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.

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CBT Session Structure and Use of Homework

Importance of Time Management

The importance of promoting resilience and avoiding dependence makes it vital to manage time well, in terms of both individual sessions and the course of sessions as a whole. For example, many agencies that provide CBT may offer a limited number of sessions (perhaps from six to 12).

CBT Session Structure and Use of Homework

This means that careful planning is required to ensure that the client is clinically safe to leave at the end of each session and – in particular – at the end of the full course of sessions.

Having limited time can be used in a positive way to focus the client on working hard to collaborate with the therapist and to explore their own thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It is ethically appropriate to explain to the client that CBT is a gradual process that will help them take incremental steps towards changing their thoughts, emotions and behaviours.

Session Agenda

Structure is one of Bordin’s (1979) triad of elements of CBT. As well as the idiosyncratic formulation – often seen as the ‘backbone’ of CBT treatment, and displayed between therapist and client (e.g. on a table where each can see it clearly) during sessions – another key tool in structuring CBT is the session agenda.

The session agenda is agreed collaboratively at the start of each session, based on items that the therapist and client wish to include. It is helpful to relate the structure of each session to the formulation. This also has a role in supporting the client’s education in the CBT model. Key items would typically be:

  • following up homework completed since the previous session
  • briefly reviewing the client’s experience since then
  • practising CBT tasks.

As the BABCP emphasises, it is vital in CBT that the therapist and client work together in changing the client’s behaviours, thinking patterns or both. Because the active involvement of the client is required, it is important to set and work to an agenda, so setting out clearly the expectations of the client at every stage, making use of limited time and giving the sessions a problem-solving atmosphere.

The therapist has a responsibility to ensure that the agenda is of a manageable size, reining in client expectation if need be so that it can be achieved within the 50-minute session. As with the formulation, it is useful for both parties to be able to see the agenda during the session.

Agenda-setting also serves to strengthen the working alliance. Simmons & Griffiths (2014: 39) observe: ‘Setting the agenda together with your client underlies the general philosophy of CBT, that of active collaboration between therapist and client.’ Indeed, the therapist may even include time to obtain client feedback on the working alliance at the end of each session (by adding ‘Feedback’ to the agenda).

Use of ‘Homework’

A common feature of CBT is that the therapist sets the client ‘homework’, which is then reviewed in the next session; this aims to help clients generalise and apply their learning.

Homework in CBT refers essentially to tasks set to be completed by the client between sessions. For some clients, ‘homework’ is a word that triggers difficult memories of school days, possibly for some linked to a failure or other schema. It is therefore important to be aware of any such sensitivity in clients.

CBT Session Structure - Use of Homework

For example, if a client’s failure schema is triggered by the term ‘homework’, we might choose either to refer to it instead as ‘between-session tasks’ or to look with the client at how our use of the word is different from the way teachers used it at school – e.g. that CBT homework is always agreed (i.e. set collaboratively rather than imposed), and is about exploration and learning rather than any externally imposed expectation of outcome.

Purpose of Homework

Homework tasks are an important part of CBT practice, based on the view that client change does not come about purely as a result of in-session work – i.e. that significant effort is required by the client between sessions. In other words, there are 168 hours in the client’s week and only one of them is spent with the therapist.

Introducing the concept of homework early in therapy is also useful in getting the message across to the client that the working alliance requires significant effort and commitment from them – i.e. in promoting the understanding that the responsibility for change lies very much with them, guided by the therapist as professional facilitator.

Homework can also help enhance client autonomy, showing them they can become their own therapist using the CBT model.

Tailoring Homework to Client Needs

Homework tasks should be tailored to the client’s idiosyncratic formulation. Key points to consider are how challenging it will be for the individual client – and also how specific, practical and measurable.

When negotiating homework, we must therefore always use the core conditions and put ourselves in the client’s frame of reference. For example, we might see a small change in activity levels as perfectly manageable but this may seem huge for a depressed client.

Homework tasks should be just enough to challenge a client to extend themselves but not so much that it feels overwhelming. In the latter case, the likelihood is that the client will then simply not attempt it at all, so negating the point of the homework entirely.

It is also important to bear in mind the client’s schemas when setting homework. For example, a client with a failure schema would need very manageable tasks in the early days (with less challenge built in), while a client with a subjugation schema might agree to homework they knew to be unsuitable just to please the therapist.

Checking Homework

It is important that the therapist remembers to check homework during the next session – otherwise, the client may feel frustrated that they have invested time and energy in doing this with no apparent interest or follow-up from their counsellor.

This could detrimentally affect the bond and also lead to non-compliance with homework tasks in future. Sufficient time should be allowed in the session agenda to discuss the client’s experience of their homework tasks and learning from these.

Again, the therapist should hold in mind when evaluating homework any client schemas that may affect this. For example, a client with an unrelenting standards schema might be harsh on themselves in evaluating their achievements.

In this case, the therapist would need to tease out the client’s successes, and could use the work to help challenge the related negative automatic thoughts (e.g. filtering, all-or-nothing thinking or discounting the positive).

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Non-compliance with homework.

There are many possible reasons for non-compliance with homework tasks, and exploring these is an important part of therapy. Homework non-compliance may link with schema avoidance.

For example, a client may use avoidance to protect themselves from the difficult feelings associated with a failure schema. In other words, they may think that if they don’t attempt the homework task, then at least they can’t fail at it.

Offering the client the core conditions is important in exploring the reasons for non-completion of homework tasks. Clients may initially say they have not had time, and the therapist needs to take the time to discuss their real reasons for not doing the homework. This provides a valuable opportunity for new learning about – and hence understanding of – the client’s patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Bordin E (1979) ‘The generalizability of the psychoanalytic concept of the working alliance’, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice , 16, 252–260.

Simmons J & Griffiths R (2014) CBT for Beginners , Sage

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15 Core CBT Techniques You Can Use Right Now

My favourite interventions, skills and approaches from cognitive behavioural therapy.

When it comes to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), there are many, many techniques, skills, strategies, and interventions at your disposal. Some of these techniques are best used in a therapist-client setting, while others lend themselves quite well to individual or ‘self-help’ situations.

Techniques can also be used in tandem or individually. It depends on the setting, the circumstance or issue, and the individual seeking help. That’s the cool thing about CBT techniques – there is no ‘cookie cutter’, one-size-fits-all way to use them.

What the techniques, skills and strategies I’m going to discuss here all have in common is that they are built upon the foundations of CBT – identifying maladaptive thinking and intentionally making specific, strategic behavioural interventions to achieve a desired outcome. Some are general CBT techniques, while others are more targeted to specific issues or needs.

Let’s start with the basics that form the foundation of CBT.

Behavioural experiments

Behavioural experiments are the cornerstone of CBT. These experiments are designed to test thinking and identify thought patterns that influence behaviour.

By intentionally ‘trying out’ specific ways of thinking and observing the outcome behaviours, clients gain a deeper awareness of the patterns of thinking that may be holding them back from reaching their goals. 1

Thought records

Thought records are also designed to test the validity of our thoughts. Deliberately recording our thoughts provides a way for us to evaluate the evidence for or against a particular way of thinking – essentially, is it true or not true based on the situation? Thought records help the client to establish a more balanced way of thinking based on logic – what is as opposed to what they feel . 1,2

Behavioural activation (aka scheduling pleasant activities)

This strategy is at once so simple yet so powerful. Pleasurable activities are among the first to go when people are faced with adversity. Intentionally taking part in activities that are enjoyable helps to reduce negative thinking and promotes more positive emotions and feelings of wellbeing.  Behavioural activation is particularly helpful for clients with depression . 3

Exposure is a powerful intervention used to help clients face their fears or phobias in a controlled way. Basically, you’re asking the client to be exposed to the very thing they fear. It will, of course, be scary for them.

When used properly, exposure has been proven to be effective in the reduction of fears and phobias. Exposure techniques are best utilized as part of a therapeutic intervention with a therapist who is well trained in their use.

There are many exposure techniques, and even more ways to implement them. 4 Here are some of the more common and well known techniques.

  • Situation exposure hierarchies

In this technique, the therapist helps the client make a list of feared objects or situations. The client then rates, on a scale of 0 to 10, how distressed they would be by each item. For example, a person who fears dogs might say “Not seeing a dog in the yard” is 0. “A dog licking my hand” might be their 10.

Starting with the least distressing, the therapist helps the client work through each situation in the list. This is a way of gradually increasing exposure and diminishing the distress of exposure.

Flooding also uses exposure hierarchies, but generally begins with the more difficult or distressing scenarios or objects. Caution should be used when choosing this technique, as it can elicit strong responses. This technique is best utilized as part of a therapeutic intervention.

  • Systematic desensitization

This technique involves combining exposure with relaxation exercises . The client is taught strategies to remain relaxed in situations that would normally elicit fear. Gradually, they start to associate their feared object or situation with relaxation rather than powerful negative feelings.

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Journaling is a great way to gather information about thoughts and feelings. The journal can be used as a place to identify, describe, and evaluate moods, thoughts, scenarios, and responses. Having a place to ‘unpack’ and explore can lead to tremendous insight.

Cognitive restructuring – unravelling cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions are patterns of faulty thinking that convince us something is true when it is not. There are several types of cognitive distortions . To unravel them, the client must learn which are present for them and how to challenge those ways of thinking.

There are any number of worksheets on the Internet that can be used to help a client identify and challenge their distortions in thinking. This can also be accomplished through the therapist-client dialogue. The goal, of course, is to help the client learn to do this on their own. 1

Here are five ‘thought challenges’ from the NHS Fife Department of Psychology’s Negative Thinking CBT Tools . 5 You can use these to get your client to take a closer look at their negative thought patterns.

1. What are the chances…?

The things you worry about may be very unlikely to happen. Would you be willing to put money on it happening?

2. What is the worst thing…?

The things you worry about might happen, but you’re making way too much of them. Consider whether it would really be that bad if the worst did happen, and realize that it might not be worth all that anxiety.

3. Am I right to think that…?

You might be missing important information that would help you with decisions. As you gather more information, your worry and stress may abate.

4. The five year rule (‘the history game’)

This challenge has been applied to lots of situations within and outside of CBT to put events that have happened or will happen into perspective. Ask yourself, “Five years from now, will it really matter?”

5. What is this worth?

Consider just how important this thing you’re worrying about is. Life is too short to be spent worrying about things that just don’t deserve that kind of time investment.

Functional assessment (ABCs)

A functional assessment tool allows the client to record the ABCs (antecedents, behaviours, consequences) of a situation. This data allows the therapist and client to begin to identify patterns of behaviour. 3 There are plenty of these forms on the Internet, but it’s also super easy to design your own.

It’s easy to fall into familiar patterns of negative thinking. One way to counteract negative thinking is through reframing . Reframing is the act of changing the meaning attributed to something so that the thought or experience of it no longer causes emotional problems.

Reframing disrupts the negative cycle of perpetuation and resets the focus on something positive. 1 This technique can be used both in sessions and as part of homework, using a thought record or similar tool.

Homework is an essential part of the CBT process. Homework assignments help clients learn new skills and integrate the concepts learned in sessions into daily life, improving treatment compliance and contributing to symptom reduction. 1,3

Relaxation and mindfulness

Four of my favourite relaxation and mindfulness practices are progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), meditation, deep breathing and self hypnosis. Each is a bit different in its implementation and intent.

  • PMR involves the systematic tensing and releasing of each muscle group, combined with deep breathing and mental imagery.
  • Mindfulness meditation involves clearing the mind and focusing on the sensations and thoughts in the moment, observing them and allowing them to pass.
  • Deep breathing is an action that is physiologically incompatible with anxiety.
  • Self hypnosis can be easily achieved by listening to audio hypnosis sessions and can calm the mind quickly.

Relaxation and mindfulness skills give the client a new and different way to respond to distressing situations. This change of response can break the cycle of perpetuation. Relaxation also helps the client to quiet their mind so that they can think more rationally and logically. YouTube videos, audio recordings, apps, and even relaxing music can all be good resources here.

The SOLVED technique

This technique is used to teach the client problem-solving skills. 3 While there are many variations on this technique (and lots of other names for it), structured problem solving is a critical skill for clients to learn. The acronym SOLVED gives the client a tangible, memorable tool for working through the problem-solving steps.

S – Select a problem that the client wants to solve.

O – Open your mind to all solutions – brainstorm all the options with your client.

L – List the potential pros and cons of each potential solution.

V – Verify the best solution – decide which choices are practical or desirable.

E – Enact the plan.

D – Decide if the plan worked.

Role play has a significant place in CBT. It can be used to help clients discover automatic thoughts, practise new responses, or modify core beliefs . Role play is also a useful tool for learning new social skills such as assertiveness. 1

The ‘pie’ technique

Based on the simple pie chart, the ‘pie’ technique lets clients see their goals and ideas in graph form. The ‘pie’ technique can help with things like setting goals and determining responsibility for outcomes. 1

Simply have the client place each idea or goal into a pie chart, divided according to importance as they see fit. This process can be done as part of a homework assignment or as part of the ongoing therapist-client dialogue. Beck (2011) has several illustrations and examples of the use of this technique. 1

Credit list technique

This is a simple technique that can yield powerful results. Clients coming to therapy often lack confidence in their ability to change and may not immediately recognize the positive steps they are taking. The credit list is simply a daily list that the client makes of positive things he or she deserves credit for.

Not only does this technique help the client to recognize their progress, it also strengthens their ability to identify underlying positive beliefs and qualities when doing their core beliefs work in therapy. 1

Letting the story play out

This technique is a sort of thought experiment. The therapist asks the client to imagine the outcome of their worst-case scenario, then encourages them to let the scene play out to its conclusion. Allowing the worrisome event to play out allows the client to see that even if their worst fear should come to pass, things can and do pass and get better. 2

So there you have it. A whole set of tools you can add to your CBT toolbox. While you are probably familiar with many of these tools, some might be new to you. As always, be sure you are working within your scope of practice. If you feel unsure about some of these techniques, seek out additional training specifically in CBT.

Watch Mark reduce a client’s stress and increase their exercise motivation in Uncommon Practitioners’ TV

This is this client’s fifth session and although she has lost plenty of weight and got fitter and healthier, she feels she has reached a plateau. She has also been feeling particularly stressed recently due to high work demands, her father, and the need to be supportive to her daughter.

She feels her diet is pretty balanced but that she needs to move more. She feels fine about cycling now but feels she hasn’t been doing enough.

Mark describes the benefits of short but really intense exercise and she agrees she can start with three lots of 30 second sprints on her stationary bike a week.

Mark utilizes the pleasure the client got from a recent holiday with her daughter as the basis for a hypnotic induction and suggests she can feel more motivated to get up to a new level – “find a better plateau” and also feel less stressed day to day.

About Mark Tyrrell

Psychology is my passion. I've been a psychotherapist trainer since 1998, specializing in brief, solution focused approaches. I now teach practitioners all over the world via our online courses .

You can get my book FREE when you subscribe to my therapy techniques newsletter. Click here to subscribe free now.

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(1) Beck, J. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

(2) https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/cbt-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-techniques-worksheets/

(3) https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn16/docs/therapists_guide_to_brief_cbtmanual.pdf

(4) http://www.div12.org/sites/default/files/WhatIsExposureTherapy.pdf

(5) https://www.moodcafe.co.uk/media/19118/Negative%20Thinking.pdf

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15 Behavioral Activation Worksheets for Depression & Anxiety

Behavioral Activation

At its core, BA aims to enable individuals to reengage with their lives through specific activation techniques (Westbrook, Kennerley, & Kirk, 2011).

Activation techniques help combat behavioral patterns of withdrawal, avoidance, and inactivity, which may perpetuate depressive symptoms by causing additional, secondary problems.

For example, a common clinical symptom of depression is lethargy, where an individual battles to get out of bed. This may lead to skipping work or avoiding seeing friends, resulting in job loss or impaired social relationships.

BA also encourages positive reinforcement in an individual’s environment in order to help increase positive behaviors and reduce those that maintain the depressive cycle.

In this article, we’ve collated some key worksheets and resources to help your clients engage in healthy behaviors on a regular basis.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free . These science-based exercises will equip you and those you work with, with tools to manage stress better and find a healthier balance in your life.

This Article Contains:

4 best behavioral activation worksheets, cbt worksheets for depression and anxiety.

  • PositivePsychology.com’s CBT Resources

A Take-Home Message

When in the depths of depression, becoming behaviorally active may feel overwhelming. Breaking tasks and activities down into manageable chunks is an important step in helping clients overcome this.

One practical approach to address this is through the use of worksheets that encourage the application of activation techniques to everyday life. Worksheets can further help to track a client’s progress and can facilitate the use of positive reinforcement, which can motivate them to implement positive behaviors.

To help your clients get going, we’ve assembled some of the best behavioral activation worksheets to promote getting active in a healthy way.

Activity Schedule

Put simply, an Activity Schedule is a diary sheet for each day of the week, with each day divided into one-hour blocks. Because depression is likely to affect a person’s motivation levels, even scheduling basic daily tasks can help them get going.

Creating structure in the daily routine can help regulate sleeping and eating patterns, which are often disrupted when feeling low. It can also help clients gradually face up to activities they’ve been avoiding, such as hobbies and social engagements.

Activity Menu

For depressed individuals, it can sometimes be hard to visualize activities that they may find enjoyable, let alone actually do them. This Activity Menu can help identify tasks that a person can engage with as they start to get more active.

It targets some key life areas that can help people feel better:

  • Connecting with others
  • Expanding the mind
  • Caring for others
  • Planning and goal setting

The activity menu is a useful tool for gradually building a client’s favorite activities into their daily schedule.

Behavior Contract

As part of promoting healthy behaviors and minimizing negative ones, it is important to surround yourself with people and environments in which this is encouraged. While self-motivation is the key to success, support from others who care about you can certainly aid in your progress.

Lejuez, Hopko, LePage, Hopko, and McNeil (2001) suggest talking to someone trustworthy, such as friends and family, about the need to increase healthy behaviors and avoid those that are detrimental to wellbeing. Clients may wish to ask their loved ones to help them pay attention to positive, rather than negative, experiences.

For instance, they may ask friends to only let them spend 25% of their time together talking about their problems and what’s bothering them, leaving the rest of the time to speak about positive experiences or a fun activity that they can do.

This Behavior Contract is a useful way for clients to create a concrete agreement with their friends and family, identifying how they can help the client build better wellbeing.

Pleasurable Activity Journal

When a person is clinically depressed, they can experience anhedonia, which is a lack of pleasure in activities that they used to find enjoyable (Treadway & Zald, 2011).

It can be useful for clients to outline which activities they typically enjoy and gradually build them into their recovery plan. It is further useful to track how pleasurable the client finds such activities over time, to monitor progress. The Pleasurable Activity Journal  is a useful tool to help with this.

CBT Depression

It examines the relationship between a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and helps individuals to understand and alter negative patterns.

One of the core concepts of CBT is that you ‘feel the way you think.’ CBT works on the idea that if you can think in more helpful ways, you can live a more fulfilling, productive, and happy life.

When faced with emotional difficulties, it’s easy to think that stressful life situations are the direct cause. However, in reality, how you feel and behave are often influenced by your perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs about the events.

With this in mind, we’ve put together key worksheets to help your clients challenge unhelpful thinking.

Increasing awareness of cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions, or ‘thinking errors,’ are habitual ways of thinking that are often inaccurate and negatively biased. Most of us will experience some form of skewed thinking at least once in our lives, so it’s important to learn how to recognize and tackle these distortions when they arise.

Some of the most common cognitive distortions include:

  • Catastrophizing When we jump to the worst possible conclusion, often using very little information to reach our decision.
  • All-or-nothing thinking When we think of situations, people, and events in extremes.
  • Overgeneralizing When we draw very broad conclusions based on limited experience or information.
  • Mind reading When we think that we know what another person is thinking or feeling, without them actually saying so.
  • Fortune telling When we predict negative events in the future, without realistically considering the chances of that outcome.
  • Labeling When we attach a single negative descriptor to events and people (including ourselves).
  • Emotional reasoning When we believe something to be true because it feels true.
  • Personalizing When we think everything people say or do is directly related to us in some way.

The Unhelpful Thinking Styles worksheet will help clients become more aware of any distorted thinking so that its influence on their feelings and behaviors is reduced. This resource is particularly relevant when working with clients for whom maladaptive thinking styles are linked to symptoms of depression.

Thought Record (Cognitive Restructuring) Worksheet

As part of assessing thinking and identifying cognitive distortions, it’s useful to keep a thought record and consider ways to restructure unhelpful thoughts and perceptions.

The Thought Record worksheet will help clients to:

  • Pause and reflect on their thoughts
  • Identify and understand potential triggering events
  • Recognize negative automatic thoughts
  • Assess their emotional reaction
  • Create alternative thoughts through reinterpretation (restructuring)
  • Reassess their emotional response


The term ‘ catastrophizing ’ originated from the work of Albert Ellis (1962) and was later extended upon by Beck, Rush, Shaw, and Emery (1979) to describe a maladaptive thinking style employed by individuals with anxiety or depression.

Essentially, catastrophic thinking is when we jump to the worst possible conclusions, with very little hard evidence (Quartana, Campbell, & Edwards, 2009). For example, a student who catastrophizes may think they will be kicked out of a program after failing one test. They may drop out, concluding that they will be a ‘failure’ for life.

In reality, failing to pass one test is unlikely to result in such a catastrophe as being removed from a program, and this thinking style is unhelpful to the individual trying to reach their goals.

Use this Decatastrophizing Worksheet to help clients restructure their thoughts when they feel overwhelmed by catastrophic thinking.

Recognizing Rumination

Rumination, which is characterized by persistent negative thinking, has been identified as a key risk factor for depression (Joormann, Yoon, & Zetsche, 2007; Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco, & Lyubomirsky, 2008).

Ruminating on negative thoughts means there is less space in our working memory to focus on other information, which may be more positive.

Indeed, rumination has been associated with deficits in cognitive control, meaning it’s harder to direct our attention toward goal-directed tasks and away from distracting irrelevant information (Beckwé, Deroost, Koster, De Lissnyder, & De Raedt, 2014; Hallion, Ruscio, & Jha, 2014).

Commonly, ruminative thinking may involve persistently thinking about events that have already happened or questions that cannot be answered, such as:

“Why do I always feel this way?” “If only I hadn’t said that to him.” “If only I’d done X, Y, or Z differently.”

cbt homework ideas

Download 3 Free Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to manage stress better and find a healthier balance in their life.

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Table of Common Core Beliefs

‘Core beliefs’ refer to a person’s ‘bottom line’ (Fennell, 1997) – their enduring, fundamental beliefs about themselves, others, and the world around them. Core beliefs are not always negative; however, those that are can be problematic.

A number of factors characterize core beliefs:

  • They are often developed early as a result of childhood experience. They can, however, change later in life (e.g., as a result of adult trauma ).
  • They may exist out of conscious awareness.
  • They can be exhibited through absolute statements and assumptions such as ‘the world is a terrible place.’

Because these beliefs are deeply held at our core, we may not be particularly aware of them. The Table of Common Core Beliefs  can help your clients identify which negative core beliefs they are holding on to.

The Downward Arrow Core Belief Technique

The Downward Arrow Core Belief Technique is a method of Socratic questioning that can help identify problematic core beliefs. It involves identifying situations that bring about negative emotions such as depression, guilt, or shame.

Once a situation that brings up negative feelings has been identified, the client has to define what negative automatic thoughts arise in relation to the situation. The next step (narrowing down) encourages the client to keep asking themselves what the previous answer is likely to represent until they reach an absolute, global statement (reflecting their core belief).

SMART goal setting

One of the fundamental priorities of CBT is to help clients move away from their problems and toward their goals. For therapy to be most effective, it is typical to work toward mutually agreed upon, clearly defined milestones.

Goal setting indicates the possibility for change, which can give hope and reduce helplessness in the face of overwhelming emotions and difficult situations. Many individuals cannot overcome their problems because their goals are too vague. Detailing goals using the SMART technique can help with this.

Put simply, goals should be:

Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Time-bound (allowing enough time for achievement)

Specifying goals with this level of detail can give clients a sense of autonomy and help break milestones down into manageable steps.

cbt homework ideas

17 Exercises To Reduce Stress & Burnout

Help your clients prevent burnout, handle stressors, and achieve a healthy, sustainable work-life balance with these 17 Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises [PDF].

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

PositivePsychology.com’s CBT Resources

Our free Positive CBT Exercises Pack includes three resources that we believe to be most useful for helping clients to alter their negative patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, while promoting a positive view of the self.

This pack features three of our top tools from the Positive Psychology Toolkit© , all of which center on the theme of positive CBT:

  • Solution-Focused Guided Imagery Exercise This visualization helps clients recognize how they can apply their strengths to overcome a problem or adversity. In this exercise, clients take forty minutes to picture a problem in detail, imagine a reality where it is resolved, and leverage their strengths to set goals that may help bring about this reality.
  • Reframing Critical Self-Talk This exercise helps clients strengthen awareness of inner criticism and promote a more self-compassionate stance towards the self. To do this, clients will commit one week to noticing and pausing when critical self-talk arises and consciously rephrase this talk to be more in line with how they’d speak to a loved one.
  • Strengths Spotting by Exception Finding This exercise helps you assess a client’s ability to deal with challenges while also increasing their confidence. In it, clients will reflect on past challenges and the strengths they used to overcome them to discover how they may apply these strengths to their present problems.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others manage stress without spending hours on research and session prep, this collection contains 17 validated stress management tools for practitioners. Use them to help others identify signs of burnout and create more balance in their lives.

It is natural that when we are feeling low, our motivation levels for common tasks and previously enjoyable activities can take a nosedive. This means there are fewer opportunities for positive and rewarding experiences. Often, the less we do, the worse we feel, leading to a perpetual cycle of inactivity and low mood.

Behavioral activation has proven to be an effective treatment for clinical depression (Jacobson et al., 1996). It helps clients to create structure with their day-to-day tasks while aiding in the rediscovery of recreational activities that they once found pleasurable. Reinforcing healthy, enjoyable activities can go a long way in helping a depressed individual feel better.

Sometimes getting going is the hardest part, but with some structure in place and a little nudge in the right direction, we can all move toward healthier, happier behaviors.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free .

  • Bannink, F. (2012). Practicing positive CBT: From reducing distress to building success . John Wiley & Sons.
  • Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression . Guilford Press.
  • Beckwé, M., Deroost, N., Koster, E. H. W., De Lissnyder, E., & De Raedt, R. (2014). Worrying and rumination are both associated with reduced cognitive control. Psychological Research , 78 (5), 651–660.
  • Ellis, A. (1962). Reason and emotion in psychotherapy . Lyle Stuart.
  • Fennell, M. J. (1997). Low self-esteem: A cognitive perspective. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy , 25 (1), 1–26.
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cbt homework ideas

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3 Stress Exercises Pack

11 CBT Group Therapy Activity Ideas With Examples

cbt homework ideas

By Jamie Frew on Feb 29, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

cbt homework ideas


Are you a mental health practitioner who wants to step up your group therapy ? If yes, then you’re in luck! If you’re looking for fun, effective ways to engage your clients in some activities to improve their mental health, you’ve come to the right place. 

Who says you can’t put “fun” in “group therapy?” In this blog, we have researched and come up with some of the best group therapy activities for adults , as well as a range of game ideas for group therapy . Let’s dive in!

Overview on Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy (CBGT)

Firstly, let’s talk about CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT aims to improve the mental health of a person. It focuses on enhancing the way a person thinks and behaves through therapy. The purpose of CBT is to address mental health issues, such as abuse, depression, anxiety, and more.

But the difference is CBGT or Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy blends CBT in a group setting. The participants will engage in this therapeutic approach as a group. The CBT group therapy activities are an incredible way to develop social skills, learn from other participants, and improve thinking patterns and coping mechanisms.

It’s important to ensure that while conducting some CBT group activities, participants feel safe in the environment. This way, they can share their experiences in a non-threatening environment and receive the support they need from others.

There are different CBT group activities you’ll discover in this blog. Before we go any further, let’s see what makes CBGT effective.

Benefits of group CBT therapy

CBGT has many benefits for you and your clients, some of which are:


CBGT is cost-effective because you can work with many participants in one session. This makes it more cost-friendly. How? Because people who want to improve their well-being can join CBGT rather than one-on-one therapy, which can be more expensive.

Improve skills

CBGT can also include the skills of participants through interactive CBT activities for group therapy. These can be their problem-solving skills, thinking patterns, communication skills, cognitive restructuring, and therapeutic techniques.

Learn different perspectives

This happens to any other group activities. Through CBGT, the participants will discover more about each other. As a result, they can learn about the different perspectives and experiences of others.

Build healthy habits

When the group therapy ends, each participant can bring the lessons they learned from the activities. It’s not a one-and-done kind of thing but continuous work. So through CBGT, they can build healthy habits even outside the therapy sessions.

Receive support

One of the best things about group therapy is not having to feel isolated and alone. The participants who are going through the same thing can get together, relate with each other, and provide support to boost their wellness.

Do these benefits sound good? Read on because, with these CBT group ideas, you’ll be able to gain insights and tips to make group therapy effective .

CBT group therapy activity ideas with examples

The following CBT group therapy ideas will help you and the participants achieve therapeutic goals. First, we have:

Social roleplay

Roleplay is an excellent way for self-expression. It helps participants engage in different social situations and learn what to do when they encounter them. This will lessen their anxiety and empower their social skills.

You can come up with different scenarios that you think will be helpful to the participants. For example, if some of them have low self-esteem, have them roleplay social scenes that will make them feel empowered.

Mindfulness meditation

The world moves fast. Sometimes, we need to keep ourselves grounded and keep in touch with our emotions and thoughts. That’s where mindfulness meditation comes into play.

It is a mental technique that will help your participants to concentrate, relax, and focus on the present. This can reduce negative thoughts, boost mental clarity, and strengthen self-control.

Gradual exposure

Gradual exposure means the participants will be gradually exposed to things that trigger or cause distress. The purpose of this is to reduce fear, anxiety, and avoidance of that specific situation or object.

For example, a participant has a phobia of insects. You can start by having them imagine the image of the insects. Then in the next session, there will be more vivid imaginations.

If successful and the participant feels safe enough, there can be real-life exposures, too. But make sure that the participant is comfortable with it and willing to work on their phobia. 

Successive approximation 

Goals can be overwhelming. So, the successive approximation is here to tackle these overwhelming goals by breaking them into smaller steps. Through this, participants can achieve a bigger goal and mastery by taking small steps every day.

Skills training

Skills training is designed to help individuals learn new skills and use them for their own growth. These could include communication skills, social skills, assertiveness, or other general psychological skills.

For example, you can train the participants to be kind to themselves and improve self-talk. They can also practice breathing exercises, mindfulness, and other activities that will improve their mental health and other skills.

Relaxation breathing training

When things get hard, we forget to pause and breathe. Sometimes, that can cause anxiety and panic attacks. 

So through relaxation breathing training, participants can reduce the symptoms, such as rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, etc.


This CBT exercise is designed to help participants or clients be proactive in solving their problems during challenging times. Problem-solving exercises allow participants to take control of their emotions and navigate difficult situations. To put this into practice, you can come up with CBT games for groups tailored to highlight their problem-solving skills.

Worry journaling

Journaling can help us slow down, gather our thoughts, and calm our minds. If your participants are stressed or suffering from anxiety, you can advise them to do worry journaling.

You can give them prompts to answer, so they know what to write. For example:

  • What are you grateful for today?
  • What are you looking forward to?
  • What’s the highlight of your day?
  • What are some of the worries you need to let go of?

 They can do this every morning, night, or whenever they have racing thoughts or worry.

Discussing trauma

Discussing trauma can help participants process their thoughts and emotions about the traumatic events. 

To start with this exercise, you can brainstorm discussion questions for group therapy to get the conversation started. If you have participants who are dealing with substance-use problems, there are a great number of group topic ideas for substance abuse so participants can talk about their experience.

Make sure that participants feel safe discussing their traumatic experiences and that they are comfortable talking about them.

Focusing on self-care

Self-care doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. There are group activities for self-care that will encourage participants to implement together but will benefit themselves.

Some group activities that stimulate self-care are: 

  • Playing board games
  • Exercising together
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Starting new hobbies together
  • Having lifting and mindful conversations

Aren’t these activities exciting? 🤩

All in all, group activities can improve themselves as individuals while thriving in a supportive environment. The more counseling group therapy ideas you have , the more lively you can turn therapy will. It doesn’t need to have a nerve-racking atmosphere.

By using the activities mentioned above, you can create a fun-loving environment that participants will enjoy and feel safe in. And that plays a big role in achieving the best outcomes for your clients.

Looking for ways to work in your business rather than working on it? Try Carepatron and streamline your healthcare practice with ease.

Further Reading:

  • Cognitive behavioral group therapy for anxiety: recent developments
  • 13 Topics to Discuss in Group Therapy

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