Cognitive Distortions: The “Shoulds” Worksheet

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Worksheet published on July 11th, 2019

Cognitive Distortions: The "Shoulds" Worksheet

Cognitive distortions (thinking errors) are a huge contributing factor to many people’s mental health issues. Cognitive distortions are erroneous patterns in thinking that lead to negative thoughts, bad feelings and poor behavior.

When someone suffers from a cognitive distortion, they are not able to perceive tough situations in a healthy way. That is why it is important to know how cognitive distortions, like ‘the shoulds’, affect the client’s ability to cope with stress in a healthy way.

About This Worksheet

This is the Cognitive Distortions: The “Shoulds” worksheet. This worksheet provides an example of how the cognitive distortion, ‘the shoulds’ affects a client’s ability to think, act and feel in a healthy way.

On this worksheet, there is a brief explanation of that ‘the shoulds’
are, along with an example of how people experience them. It is great for learning about what ‘the shoulds’ are and how they affect thinking, thoughts and behavior. This worksheet is ideal for adolescents and adults participating in cognitive behavioral therapy.


Review the introductory explanation of ‘the shoulds’ with your client.
You may use the examples provided to illustrate how ‘the shoulds’ affect how people feel about themselves and react to tough situations. It is also helpful to review the different examples of how people have thoughts that reflect ‘the shoulds’ without actually using the word ‘should’.

After reviewing the content with the client, instruct them to complete the four reflection questions provided. When the client is ready, review their responses with them and answer their questions in preparation for developing a plan of action to minimize the frequency in which the client uses the cognitive distortion.

Download Cognitive Distortions: The “Shoulds” Worksheet

Link To This Worksheet

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