Steps To Challenge Automatic Negative Thoughts Worksheet

GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC

Worksheet updated on January 11th, 2024

Steps To Challenge Automatic Negative Thoughts Worksheet

Negative thoughts can be powerful and have a big impact on a client’s mental health, especially when they are dealing with issues like anxiety, grief, and depression. Without proper tools for managing negative thoughts, a client’s process for healing may be challenging.

When a client is struggling with negative thoughts, they are seeing the world through a lens of negativity and helplessness. When given tools to modify their thought patterns, they can promote hopefulness, self-forgiveness, and a more realistic outlook on life challenges. This can be helpful when learning how to cope with uncomfortable feelings, especially anxiety and depression.

About This Worksheet

Teaching clients how to cope with negative thoughts is an important part of therapy. A great method for coping with unhealthy thoughts is learning how to challenge automatic negative thoughts that they have in reaction to upsetting events. Cognitive behavioral therapy offers tools to cope with automatic negative thoughts, which often consist of steps for challenging thoughts that cause negative emotions and unwanted behavior.

The Steps To Challenge Automatic Negative Thoughts worksheet offers a step-by-step process for teaching clients how to challenge automatic negative thoughts. It uses concepts from cognitive behavioral therapy to help clients learn how to identify negative thoughts and create new, healthier, and more balanced thoughts.

This worksheet is great for adults who are interested in learning coping skills from cognitive behavioral therapy. It is best utilized in individual counseling sessions.


Before introducing the worksheet, educate your client about automatic negative thoughts and how challenging negative thoughts can help them cope with their challenges. Introduce the worksheet and read the introduction paragraph with them.

Before having the client complete the worksheet, review each step with them and explain to them how the reflection questions can help them modify their negative thoughts. When you are confident that the client understands, instruct them to complete the reflection questions and offer guidance and support as needed.

Review the results with the client and reflect on how they feel about the exercise. Provide the client with a copy of the worksheet and encourage them to continue to utilize the steps when they are experiencing unwanted or negative thoughts.

Download Steps To Challenge Automatic Negative Thoughts Worksheet

Link To This Worksheet

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