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How to Change Negative Thinking Patterns for Good

A Beginner’s Guide to Cognitive Restructuring

Nick Wignall
Apr 8 · 17 min read

TABLE OF CONTENTSYou can use the following links to jump directly to a specific section of the guide:1. What Is Cognitive Restructuring, Exactly?2. How to Do Cognitive Restructuring: A Step-by-Step Plan3. How to Use a Thought Record to Do Cognitive Restructuring4. Case Study: How Julie used Cognitive Restructuring to lower her worry and anxiety5. Summary & Key Points

What is Cognitive Restructuring, Exactly?

Why Cognitive Restructuring Works


How to Do Cognitive Restructuring: A Step-by-Step Plan

STEP 1: Hit the pause button.

STEP 2: Identify the trigger.

STEP 3: Notice your automatic thoughts.

STEP 4: Identify your emotional reaction and note how intense it is.

STEP 5: Generate alternative thoughts.

STEP 6: Re-rate the intensity of your emotional response.


How to Use a Thought Record to Do Cognitive Restructuring

You can download a PDF version of this Thought Record template here: https://nickwignall.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Thought-Record-Example-Nick-Wignall.pdf

A few more thoughts about getting started with a Thought Record


Case Study: How Julie used Cognitive Restructuring to lower her worry and anxiety

Julie the chronic worrier

Julie’s mother-in-law anxiety

Julie’s success with Cognitive Restructuring

A few key takeaways from Julie’s story


Summary and Key Points


Nick Wignall

Written by

Clinical Psychologist and author interested in practical psychology for rigorous personal growth. https://nickwignall.com