Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts

This Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts is an adaptation of the original cognitive therapy thought record by Aaron Beck and colleagues (Beck, Rush, Shaw & Emery, 1979). Clients are trained to observe and record their cognitions, which are described as "either a thought or a visual image that you may not be aware of unless you focus on it". Once cognitions can be reliably "caught" the therapist and client engage in a reality-testing process to "encourage an accurate description and analysis of the way things are".

Practitioners of CBT are encouraged to read Beck's original writings on thought records which are very flexible in terms of using these tools to work with client's cognitions. He encourages the use of a variety of tools - whatever helps the client to understand and engage with the technique. For example, very simple two-column records might be used to record 'automatic thoughts' and 'reasonable responses'. Alternatively, more complex records might be used to record emotions and behavior.

  • Beck, A. T., Rush, A. J., Shaw, B. F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. 1979. New York: Guilford Press


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