• 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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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 Low Self-Esteem (Fennell, 1997)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Low Self-Esteem (Fennell, 1997)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD: Salkovskis, Forrester, Richards, 1998)

Cognitive Behavioral Model Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD: Salkovskis, Forrester, Richards, 1998)

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

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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.

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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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15 Core CBT Techniques You Can Use Right Now

My favourite approaches from cognitive behavioural therapy.

When it comes to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), there are many, many techniques, 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 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 changes 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. Actually 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

Behaviour 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.  This technique is particularly helpful for clients with depression. 3

Exposure is a powerful technique 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.

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 replacing negative thoughts with positive ones as soon as the negative thought occurs.

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

Three of my favourite relaxation and mindfulness practices are progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), meditation, and deep breathing. 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.

Relaxation and mindfulness techniques 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.

Helping reduce a client’s stress and increase their exercise motivation

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.

Members of Uncommon Practitioners TV can watch this session online now. And if you’d like to join, you can  sign up to be notified when booking is open here.

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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.

You can also get my articles on YouTube , find me on Instagram , Amazon , Twitter , and Facebook .

(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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11 CBT Group Therapy Activity Ideas With Examples

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.

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Further Reading:

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

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Avail the best Therapy Homework Ideas from Ireland experts

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is an approach to therapy that can help people with mental health issues, depending on the work they put in. CBT is an effective approach to treating mental health issues, but most of the time it depends on how much work you do in each session. For this process to be successful and have a lasting impact, clients need to use what they learn during CBT every day outside of therapy sessions.

Irish students can research various homework ideas involving CBT techniques including three main components of mental health; thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Which inhibits them from being able to function normally and move forward at all times without any fear whatsoever due mostly because of PTSD.

Therapy Homework Ideas

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT has been proven effective in treating depression, anxiety, and ADHD disorder. Some clients do well with therapy homework worksheets while others may find it difficult to complete them. It becomes important for the client to step outside his or her comfort zone and understand how people struggle emotionally as they express themselves differently from one another.

How Does It Work?

There are many different types of homework assignments that therapists can assign their patients depending on where they’re stuck with cognitive behavioural therapy exercises – researchers test these out among other things like finding ways for people who cannot get enough motivation from themselves or others as well as those struggling with anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Different types of Therapy Homework Exercises

  • Exposure : This CBT exercise helps in reducing fear and anxiety. It is an effective treatment to treat any psychological problem efficiently. Individuals should approach what to normally avoid reducing anxiety.
  • Activity scheduling : It is one of the best CBT therapy ideas that help people to avoid certain behaviours due to depression, anxiety, or any other obstacle. The exercise includes identifying pleasing behaviour and scheduling the same behaviour throughout the week. It is the most efficiently supported treatment for medical depression.
  • Meditation : Mindfulness meditation is the best CBT exercise that helps people to learn how to connect with the present moment. The students searching for the best therapy homework ideas can acknowledge how mindfulness exercises are beneficial for stress reduction, chronic pain, and many more.
  • Relaxation Breathing Technique : This CBT exercise helps in decreasing physiological symptoms of rapid heart rate, anxiety, breath shortness, and many more. Additionally, it helps in increasing the feeling of comfort and reducing the symptoms of anxiety.
  • Successive Approximation: This is a cognitive behavioural therapy exercise that aids people in achieving difficult or daunting tasks. People can master the abilities required to reach the greater objective by dividing major activities into smaller parts or executing an activity that is related to the goal but less challenging. Acting as if is one approach to practicing this ability.
  • Skills Training : Skills Training is a cognitive behavioural therapy activity that uses modelling, direct instruction, and role-plays to address skill inadequacies. Social skills training, assertiveness training, and communication training are the most prevalent types of skills training. During problem-solving therapy, skills training might also take place.
  • Problem Solving: This is a cognitive-behavioral therapy exercise that encourages people to actively participate in problem-solving. When faced with a challenging situation, people with chronic mood disorders or a history of disappointment may take a passive approach. People may retake control and make the best of challenging situations by teaching good problem-solving methods.

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Different Types of homework

(1) psychoeducational homework.

While the Internet contains a wealth of health-related information, the majority of it is not easily accessible to users. By presenting clear and simple psychoeducational information linked to the themes being discussed in treatment, mobile apps can help to improve psychoeducation.

(2) Self-assessment homework

Unlike traditional paper-based assignments, mobile apps can help users with in-the-moment self-assessments by urging them to record self-report data about their current status. While data obtained retrospectively using paper records can be skewed by recollection biases, mobile apps allow patients to write their thoughts and feelings as they happen, resulting in higher data accuracy.

(3) Modality-specific homework

Evidence suggests that relaxation practices, cognitive therapy, imaginal exposure in GAD and PTSD, multimedia solutions for skill learning and problem-solving in children with disruptive behaviour or anxiety disorders, relaxation and cognitive therapy in GAD, or self-monitoring via text messages (short messages) are all effective modality-specific homework assignments on mobile apps.

CBT is a form of therapy that has been proven effective in treating many different illnesses. The type your therapist will use depends on the nature, stage and specific target of the illness they are trying to cure you from.

Common and most effective CBT homework ideas

The students asking what is the importance of homework in CBT should understand that inaccurate thoughts can reinforce negative emotions or thoughts patterns. By exercising critical CBT therapy exercises, people can decrease anxiety and depression symptoms. Some of the effective techniques or common CBT practices include:

  • Journaling : The clients preparing homework on therapy should follow this technique to gather information about their thoughts and moods. A journal for CBT can involve the source of the mood, intensity, how to react, and several other factors. This technique helps identify emotional tendencies, changes in thought patterns, and how to cope with them.
  • Cognitive reformation : Once the clients identify the distortions with therapy homework assignments examples, they can begin to explore how those distortions arose. When an individual discovers a harmful belief, they can challenge it. Instead of letting the distorted behaviours change into negative thoughts, it’s better to think about what makes a person respectable and valuable.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation : This is the most useful technique that helps clients to understand the importance of therapy. This practice instructs an individual to relax one muscle group at one time until the entire body comes into a state of relaxation. The clients can also use the audio guidance for calming nerves and relaxing an unfocused mind.
  • Exploration with a guide: The therapist will become acquainted with your point of view via guided discovery. Then they’ll ask you questions that will test your views and extend your horizons. You may be requested to provide evidence that both supports and contradicts your assumptions.
  • Experiments on behaviour: Behavioral trials are commonly utilized in the treatment of anxiety disorders including catastrophic thinking. You’ll be asked to forecast what will happen before starting a task that generally makes you nervous. You’ll discuss whether the forecast came true later. Over time, you may notice that the prophesied disaster is unlikely to occur. You’ll probably start with lower-anxiety tasks and work your way up.
  • Playing a role: Role-playing can assist you in working through various actions in potentially challenging situations. Playing out situations can help to reduce fear and can be used for:
  • Enhancing problem-solving abilities
  • Social skills practice
  • Establishing confidence and familiarity in specific situations.
  • Training in assertiveness
  • Enhancing communication abilities

Proficient therapy homework ideas from Irish Assignment writers

The clients not doing therapy homework can suffer from severe behavioural issues, which can even lead to anxiety. Thus, it is beneficial to take professional help and get proficient help with CBT homework exercises. The Ph.D. scholars of IrelandAssignmentHelp.com deliver the best therapy homework ideas in a short time. The writers understand the specific requirements of Irish Universities and thus assist students to meet the terms and rules with every assignment delivered. With years of experience, professional writers provide quality homework solutions at reasonable prices. The students can get professionally written assignments before the final date of submission after taking help from Irish experts.

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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.

Download 3 Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises Pack (PDF)

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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.

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.

17 Positive CBT Exercises

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others through CBT, this collection contains 17 validated positive CBT tools for practitioners . Use them to help others overcome unhelpful thoughts and feelings and develop more positive behaviors.

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.
  • Hallion, L. S., Ruscio, A. M., & Jha, A. P. (2014). Fractionating the role of executive control in control over worry: A preliminary investigation. Behaviour Research and Therapy , 54 , 1–6.
  • Jacobson, N. S., Dobson, K .S., Truax, P. A., Addis, M. E., Koerner, K., Gollan, J. K., … Prince, S. E. (1996). A component analysis of cognitive-behavioral treatment for depression. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology , 64 (2), 295–304.
  • Joormann, J., Yoon, K. L., & Zetsche, U. (2007). Cognitive inhibition in depression. Applied and Preventive Psychology , 12 (3), 128–139.
  • Lejuez, C. W., Hopko, D. R., LePage, J. P., Hopko, S. D., & McNeil, D. W. (2001). A brief behavioral activation treatment for depression. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice , 8 (1), 164–175.
  • Mazar, A., & Wood, W. (2018). Defining habit in psychology. In B. Verplanken (Ed.). The psychology of habit: Theory, mechanisms, change, and contexts . Springer.
  • Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B. E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science , 3 (5), 400–424.
  • Quartana, P. J., Campbell, C. M., & Edwards, R. R. (2009). Pain catastrophizing: A critical review. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics , 9 (5), 745–758.
  • Treadway, M. T., & Zald, D. H. (2011). Reconsidering anhedonia in depression: Lessons from translational neuroscience. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews , 35 (3), 537–555.
  • Westbrook, D., Kennerley, H., & Kirk, J. (2011). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy: Skills and applications . Sage.
  • Wood, W., & Rünger, D. (2016). Psychology of habit. Annual Review of Psychology , 67 , 289–314.

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What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

cbt homework ideas

Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change.

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Verywell / Daniel Fishel

  • Effectiveness
  • Considerations
  • Getting Started

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps people learn how to identify and change the destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on their behavior and emotions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy combines cognitive therapy with behavior therapy by identifying maladaptive patterns of thinking, emotional responses, or behaviors and replacing them with more desirable patterns.

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on changing the automatic negative thoughts that can contribute to and worsen our emotional difficulties, depression , and anxiety . These spontaneous negative thoughts also have a detrimental influence on our mood.

Through CBT, faulty thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts.

Everything You Need to Know About CBT

This video has been medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD .

Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT encompasses a range of techniques and approaches that address our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. These can range from structured psychotherapies to self-help practices. Some of the specific types of therapeutic approaches that involve cognitive behavioral therapy include:

  • Cognitive therapy centers on identifying and changing inaccurate or distorted thought patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)  addresses destructive or disturbing thoughts and behaviors while incorporating treatment strategies such as emotional regulation and mindfulness.
  • Multimodal therapy suggests that psychological issues must be treated by addressing seven different but interconnected modalities: behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal factors, and drug/biological considerations.
  • Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) involves identifying irrational beliefs, actively challenging these beliefs, and finally learning to recognize and change these thought patterns.

While each type of cognitive behavioral therapy takes a different approach, all work to address the underlying thought patterns that contribute to psychological distress.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques

CBT is about more than identifying thought patterns. It uses a wide range of strategies to help people overcome these patterns. Here are just a few examples of techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Identifying Negative Thoughts

It is important to learn what thoughts, feelings, and situations are contributing to maladaptive behaviors. This process can be difficult, however, especially for people who struggle with introspection . But taking the time to identify these thoughts can also lead to self-discovery and provide insights that are essential to the treatment process.

Practicing New Skills

In cognitive behavioral therapy, people are often taught new skills that can be used in real-world situations. For example, someone with a substance use disorder might practice new coping skills and rehearse ways to avoid or deal with social situations that could potentially trigger a relapse.


Goal setting can be an important step in recovery from mental illness, helping you to make changes to improve your health and life. During cognitive behavioral therapy, a therapist can help you build and strengthen your goal-setting skills .

This might involve teaching you how to identify your goal or how to distinguish between short- and long-term goals. It may also include helping you set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based), with a focus on the process as much as the end outcome.


Learning problem-solving skills during cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn how to identify and solve problems that may arise from life stressors, both big and small. It can also help reduce the negative impact of psychological and physical illness.

Problem-solving in CBT often involves five steps:

  • Identify the problem
  • Generate a list of potential solutions
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each potential solution
  • Choose a solution to implement
  • Implement the solution


Also known as diary work, self-monitoring is an important cognitive behavioral therapy technique. It involves tracking behaviors, symptoms, or experiences over time and sharing them with your therapist.

Self-monitoring can provide your therapist with the information they need to provide the best treatment. For example, for people with eating disorders, self-monitoring may involve keeping track of eating habits, as well as any thoughts or feelings that went along with consuming a meal or snack.

Additional cognitive behavioral therapy techniques may include journaling , role-playing , engaging in relaxation strategies , and using mental distractions .

What Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help With

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be used as a short-term treatment to help individuals learn to focus on present thoughts and beliefs.

CBT is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:

  • Anger issues
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Panic attacks
  • Personality disorders

In addition to mental health conditions, cognitive behavioral therapy has also been found to help people cope with:

  • Chronic pain or serious illnesses
  • Divorce or break-ups
  • Grief or loss
  • Low self-esteem
  • Relationship problems
  • Stress management

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Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The underlying concept behind CBT is that thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in behavior. For example, a person who spends a lot of time thinking about plane crashes, runway accidents, and other air disasters may avoid air travel as a result.

The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to teach people that while they cannot control every aspect of the world around them, they can take control of how they interpret and deal with things in their environment.

CBT is known for providing the following key benefits:

  • It helps you develop healthier thought patterns by becoming aware of the negative and often unrealistic thoughts that dampen your feelings and moods.
  • It is an effective short-term treatment option as improvements can often be seen in five to 20 sessions.
  • It is effective for a wide variety of maladaptive behaviors.
  • It is often more affordable than some other types of therapy .
  • It is effective whether therapy occurs online or face-to-face.
  • It can be used for those who don't require psychotropic medication .

One of the greatest benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy is that it helps clients develop coping skills that can be useful both now and in the future.

Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT emerged during the 1960s and originated in the work of psychiatrist Aaron Beck , who noted that certain types of thinking contributed to emotional problems. Beck labeled these "automatic negative thoughts" and developed the process of cognitive therapy. 

Where earlier behavior therapies had focused almost exclusively on associations, reinforcements , and punishments to modify behavior, the cognitive approach addresses how thoughts and feelings affect behaviors.

Today, cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most well-studied forms of treatment. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of a range of mental conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder , panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder , and substance use disorder.

  • Research indicates that cognitive behavioral therapy is the leading evidence-based treatment for eating disorders .
  • CBT has been proven helpful in those with insomnia, as well as those who have a medical condition that interferes with sleep, including those with pain or mood disorders such as depression.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy has been scientifically proven to be effective in treating symptoms of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents.
  • A 2018 meta-analysis of 41 studies found that CBT helped improve symptoms in people with anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy has a high level of empirical support for the treatment of substance use disorders, helping people with these disorders improve self-control , avoid triggers, and develop coping mechanisms for daily stressors.

CBT is one of the most researched types of therapy, in part, because treatment is focused on very specific goals and results can be measured relatively easily.

Verywell Mind's Cost of Therapy Survey , which sought to learn more about how Americans deal with the financial burdens associated with therapy, found that Americans overwhelmingly feel the benefits of therapy:

  • 80% say therapy is a good investment
  • 91% are satisfied with the quality of therapy they receive
  • 84% are satisfied with their progress toward mental health goals

Things to Consider With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There are several challenges that people may face when engaging in cognitive behavioral therapy. Here are a few to consider.

Change Can Be Difficult

Initially, some patients suggest that while they recognize that certain thoughts are not rational or healthy, simply becoming aware of these thoughts does not make it easy to alter them.

CBT Is Very Structured

Cognitive behavioral therapy doesn't focus on underlying, unconscious resistance to change as much as other approaches such as  psychoanalytic psychotherapy . Instead, it tends to be more structured, so it may not be suitable for people who may find structure difficult.

You Must Be Willing to Change

For cognitive behavioral therapy to be effective, you must be ready and willing to spend time and effort analyzing your thoughts and feelings. This self-analysis can be difficult, but it is a great way to learn more about how our internal states impact our outward behavior.

Progress Is Often Gradual

In most cases, CBT is a gradual process that helps you take incremental steps toward behavior change . For example, someone with social anxiety might start by simply imagining anxiety-provoking social situations. Next, they may practice conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances. By progressively working toward a larger goal, the process seems less daunting and the goals easier to achieve.

How to Get Started With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be an effective treatment choice for a range of psychological issues. If you or someone you love might benefit from this form of therapy, consider the following steps:

  • Consult with your physician and/or check out the directory of certified therapists offered by the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists to locate a licensed professional in your area. You can also do a search for "cognitive behavioral therapy near me" to find local therapists who specialize in this type of therapy.
  • Consider your personal preferences , including whether face-to-face or online therapy will work best for you.
  • Contact your health insurance to see if it covers cognitive behavioral therapy and, if so, how many sessions are covered per year.
  • Make an appointment with the therapist you've chosen, noting it on your calendar so you don't forget it or accidentally schedule something else during that time.
  • Show up to your first session with an open mind and positive attitude. Be ready to begin to identify the thoughts and behaviors that may be holding you back, and commit to learning the strategies that can propel you forward instead.

What to Expect With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you're new to cognitive behavioral therapy, you may have uncertainties or fears of what to expect. In many ways, the first session begins much like your first appointment with any new healthcare provider.

During the first session, you'll likely spend some time filling out paperwork such as HIPAA forms (privacy forms), insurance information, medical history, current medications, and a therapist-patient service agreement. If you're participating in online therapy, you'll likely fill out these forms online.

Also be prepared to answer questions about what brought you to therapy, your symptoms , and your history—including your childhood, education, career, relationships (family, romantic, friends), and current living situation.

Once the therapist has a better idea of who you are, the challenges you face, and your goals for cognitive behavioral therapy, they can help you increase your awareness of the thoughts and beliefs you have that are unhelpful or unrealistic. Next, strategies are implemented to help you develop healthier thoughts and behavior patterns.

During later sessions, you will discuss how your strategies are working and change the ones that aren't. Your therapist may also suggest cognitive behavioral therapy techniques you can do yourself between sessions, such as journaling to identify negative thoughts or practicing new skills to overcome your anxiety .

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  at  988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our  National Helpline Database .

Hofmann SG, Asnaani A, Vonk IJ, Sawyer AT, Fang A. The efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy: A review of meta-analyses . Cognit Ther Res . 2012;36(5):427-440. doi:10.1007/s10608-012-9476-1

Merriam-Webster. Cognitive behavioral therapy .

Rnic K, Dozois DJ, Martin RA. Cognitive distortions, humor styles, and depression . Eur J Psychol. 2016;12(3):348-62. doi:10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1118

Lazarus AA, Abramovitz A. A multimodal behavioral approach to performance anxiety . J Clin Psychol. 2004;60(8):831-40. doi:10.1002/jclp.20041

Lincoln TM, Riehle M, Pillny M, et al. Using functional analysis as a framework to guide individualized treatment for negative symptoms . Front Psychol. 2017;8:2108. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02108

Ugueto AM, Santucci LC, Krumholz LS, Weisz JR. Problem-solving skills training . Evidence-Based CBT for Anxiety and Depression in Children and Adolescents: A Competencies-Based Approach . 2014. doi:10.1002/9781118500576.ch17

Lindgreen P, Lomborg K, Clausen L.  Patient experiences using a self-monitoring app in eating disorder treatment: Qualitative study .  JMIR Mhealth Uhealth.  2018;6(6):e10253. doi:10.2196/10253

Tsitsas GD, Paschali AA. A cognitive-behavior therapy applied to a social anxiety disorder and a specific phobia, case study . Health Psychol Res. 2014;2(3):1603. doi:10.4081/hpr.2014.1603

Kumar V, Sattar Y, Bseiso A, Khan S, Rutkofsky IH.  The effectiveness of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in treatment of psychiatric disorders .  Cureus . 2017;9(8):e1626.

Trauer JM, Qian MY, Doyle JS, Rajaratnam SMW, Cunnington D. Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia: A systematic review and meta-analysis .  Ann Intern Med . 2015;163(3):191. doi:10.7326/M14-2841

Agras WS, Fitzsimmons-craft EE, Wilfley DE.  Evolution of cognitive-behavioral therapy for eating disorders .  Behav Res Ther . 2017;88:26-36. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2016.09.004

Oud M, De winter L, Vermeulen-smit E, et al.  Effectiveness of CBT for children and adolescents with depression: A systematic review and meta-regression analysis . Eur Psychiatry . 2019;57:33-45. doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2018.12.008

Carpenter J, Andrews L, Witcraft S, Powers M, Smits J, Hofmann S. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta‐analysis of randomized placebo‐controlled trials .  Depress Anxiety . 2018;35(6):502–14. doi:10.1002/da.22728

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  Cognitive-behavioral therapy (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, nicotine) .

Gaudiano BA. Cognitive-behavioural therapies: Achievements and challenges . Evid Based Ment Health . 2008;11(1):5-7. doi:10.1136/ebmh.11.1.5

Beck JS. Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond .

Coull G, Morris PG. The clinical effectiveness of CBT-based guided self-help interventions for anxiety and depressive disorders: A systematic review . Psycholog Med . 2011;41(11):2239-2252. doi:10.1017/S0033291711000900

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."


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