Cognitive Techniques

Challenging and Replacing Negative Automatic Thoughts.

Cognitive techniques such as using Cognitive Behavioral Thought Logs can help clients to become aware of their context, their feelings, and their negative automatic thoughts. This is based on the idea that negative emotions are connected to the negative automatic thoughts that produce them. Cognitive theory believes that by challenging and replacing automatic negative thoughts with more rational thoughts you can produce new more positive emotions.

Playback problems? This video is available on YouTube at

The ladder of influence (Senge, Kliener, Roberts, Ross, & Smith, 1994) and parking example described in this video parallels the process used to challenge and replace negative automatic thoughts in cognitive theory (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979).

Playback problems? This video is available on YouTube at

CBT Thought Log
Context/Situation Feelings Bodily Awareness Automatic Negative Thoughts Belief Behavior Dispute Automatic Negative Thought Alternative Feelings & Behaviors
In a parking lot getting ready to park your car when someone cuts you off. Angry, frustrated, & vindictive. Grip tightening on the steering wheel & heart is racing. That guy is a selfish jerk. How could he not see my signal light? Why does he think he's so much more important than I am. I need to show him that he can't take advantage of me. People should wait their turns and treat one another with respect. I am always being disrespected and taken advantage of. Honking horn, screaming choice words, demanding he moves his car. The person might not be intentionally disrespecting or taking advantage of me. It is possible that they didn't see me because they are in a hurry. They may be having an emergency. Less defensive, not taking it personally, staying calm.


Cognitive tecquniques such as using psychoeducation to explain a set of symptoms related to a mental health diagnosis can provide clients with a framework for understanding their experiences. Psychoeducation can also be used to explain a set of cognitive and/or behavioral strategies. For example, in the following video, produced by the University of Louisville, a cognitive behavioral counselor uses psychoeducation to provide a structure to help the client understand the connection between her thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The following video, produced by the Veterans Health Administration, offers an example of psychoeducation related to the mental health symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For access to additional PTSD resources, assessment materials, and recommended treatment strategies from the Veterans Health Administration please visit

Playback problems? This video is available on YouTube at

Integrating Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation practices have been combined with cognitive techniques (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale, 2002) to help clients change the way that they perceive and act upon their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations.

In this video Michael Baime describes how he has trained a diverse range of people (e.g., police, teachers, children, people with life threatening illnesses, lawyers, doctors) to use mindfulness techniques to become aware of their experiences in the present moment.

Playback problems? This video is available on YouTube at

In this video Ronald Siegel demonstrates how he introduces mindfulness meditation into his counseling practice to help clients dependent on their situation and needs.

Playback problems? This video is available on YouTube at