CBT has been proven to be very successful at helping individuals overcome their mental health issues. However, if you want to learn more about cognitive behavioral therapy, where should you start?
Below are 29 resources to start Cognitive Behavioral Therapy by yourself. We’ve found free and paid CBT worksheets and workbooks that are recommended and used by professional mental health professionals.
There are a few categories to help you find the best resource for your situation:
- Essential Resources For Beginners To Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- General CBT Cognitive Restructuring Resources
- CBT Self-Help Resources For Depression
- CBT Self-Help Resources For Anxiety
- CBT Self-Help Resources For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
5 Essential Resources For Beginners To Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Want to go all-in right away? Then we recommend this therapist-recommended 7-week CBT plan for managing anxiety and depression. It’s a self-help CBT workbook called Retrain Your Brain that has helped many people manage their anxiety and depression. The unique weekly structure is designed so each activity builds on the previous week’s work as you apply these skills in your daily life. Real-life examples make the material more accessible to CBT newbies. Get it here!
- To get started, download this free chapter from a self-help course based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Psychology Tools for Living Well. The self-led course teaches the principles and practice of CBT. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the origins of CBT, how it works (its ‘stances’), and the evidence supporting it. Get it here!
- Download this free “Cognitive Triangle” in CBT before you start any worksheets. This cognitive triangle shows the interaction between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This concept lies at the heart of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). It is possible to improve mood and behavior by addressing irrational or maladaptive thoughts. An introduction to the Cognitive Triangle is provided in the worksheet. Get it here!
- Develop a healthier understanding of yourself and your irrational thoughts with this free “Core Beliefs” worksheet. Using this worksheet will allow you to explore how your thoughts affect your emotions and behavior. After discussing core beliefs with a professional, this CBT worksheet can also serve as a good take-home reminder. Get it here!
- Figure out what’s negatively influencing your emotions with this free “Cognitive Distortions” worksheet. A cognitive distortion is an irrational thought that affects our emotions. Cognitive distortions affect everyone, but they can be harmful in their most extreme forms. Use this CBT worksheet to recognize irrational thought patterns that might be causing harm. Get it here!
8 General CBT Cognitive Restructuring Resources
- Are you always feeling guilty? Download this free “Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty” worksheet. The checklist describes the cognitive distortions responsible for post-traumatic guilt. You can use it to identify troublesome cognitions in yourself, and even start a conversation about post-traumatic guilt with a professional therapist. Get it here!
- Try this free cognitive restructuring worksheet to challenge and change your irrational thoughts. “Cognitive restructuring” uses socratic questioning as a technique to encourage your brain to change your irrational thoughts. Psychotherapists ask probing questions about their clients’ irrational thoughts using the Socratic method. By improving your own awareness, you can start consciously questioning the root of your thoughts. You can use this worksheet alongside other CBT interventions to help challenge irrational thinking. Instead of answering every question, it is recommended that you only select 3-5 questions for each thought. Get it here!
- For more in-depth CBT cognitive restructuring for a specific behavior or thought, use this free “Thoughts & Behaviors: Cost/Benefit Analysis” worksheet. As part of the exercise, you will describe a particular behavior or thought, the costs and benefits of that behavior, and a more adaptive alternative idea. Get it here!
- Do you worry a lot? Try this CBT “Worry Exploration Questions” worksheet. We often imagine the worst case scenario when we worry. Realistically, these concerns may never come true. There is a difference between what could happen and what will happen. Worry Exploration Questions will help you consider the reality of their worries. Worksheets like this can be useful during cognitive behavioral therapy for challenging irrational beliefs. All questions were crafted to be simple enough for children, yet profound enough for teens and adults. Get it here!
- Are you craving positivity? Try Dr. Anna Napawan’s Happiness Workbook: A CBT-Based Guide to Foster Positivity and Embrace Joy. The Happiness Workbook could help you: 1) Learn to be happier through exercises that help you reflect on your thoughts and feelings. 2) Receive inspiration and motivation to continue your journey toward happiness. 3) Find ways to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. 4) Stay motivated and inspired throughout your mental health journey. Get it here!
- For general self-help CBT as well as for those struggling with anxiety and depression, try the workbook called Don’t Believe Everything You Feel. It’s a CBT workbook to identify your emotional schemas and find freedom from anxiety and depression. This workbook offers an innovative approach combining cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and emotional schema therapy (EST) to help you explore your deeply held personal beliefs about emotion, determine if these beliefs can be helpful or harmful, and motivate yourself to adopt alternative, healthier ways of coping. Each chapter includes exercises such as self-evaluation, expressive writing, or guiding questions to help you manage your feelings more effectively. Get it here!
- For children and teens, there are so many CBT resources for you! One of our favorites is the CBT Toolbox for Depressed, Anxious & Suicidal Children and Adolescents by Dr. David Pratt. It’s a huge toolkit that has over 200 worksheets and therapist tip sheets to help your kids manage moods, build resilience and develop coping skills. Each worksheet and handout includes straightforward explanations, highlighted as ‘therapist tips’ to guide the clinician. The highly practical interventions include structured activities that are reproducible and ready-to-use for professional CBT sessions (if you choose to use them with your self-help journey). Get it here!
- If you struggle with anger, panic, or worry, we suggest the 10 simple CBT strategies from the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Made Simple workbook. This book provides a comprehensive overview of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and how it can be applied to help people improve their lives. You’ll learn how to identify and change negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that may be holding you back from achieving your goals. Get it here!
5 CBT Self-Help Resources For Depression
- Do you struggle with depression? Try this CBT-inspired activity menu! With this, you’ll never have to worry about choosing and accomplishing small daily goals to start feeling better. Activities include: animals, being active, cleaning, connecting with people, creating, cooking, learning, mend, music, nature, planning, reading, scheduling, self-care, shopping, traveling, trying something new, watching, writing. Get it here!
- If you’re lacking motivation to even do the simplest tasks, try this free “Behavioral Activation” worksheet. Through behavioral activation, you will identify and replace your old negative behaviors with positive ones. After that, you’ll create a schedule that details when each activity can be completed. Get it here!
- This Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression workbook by Dr. Monique Thompson comes with essential strategies that can help you start healing from depression. This book delivers an effective toolbox that gives you easy-to-use exercises. You’ll learn how to re-examine your thinking and actions so you can start creating lasting changes in your daily life. Get it here!
- For a well-rounded CBT approach to healing from depression, the Growing from Depression book could help. Depression is a disease that affects millions of people around the world. Depression is not a simple matter of feeling sad or blue. It is a complex condition that involves many different factors. This book explores the nature of depression and offers practical ways to help you cope and health from it. Get it here!
- For those struggling with suicidal thoughts, we recommend The Suicidal Thoughts Workbook. It’s been described as “a compassionate guide to managing suicidal thoughts and finding hope”. You’ll find practical tools in the workbook to help you find hope. The workbook can help you discover your reasons for living, manage painful emotions, and create a safe environment when you face a crisis. Additionally, you will discover ways to strengthen your social connections, promote self-compassion, and rediscover activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. You will find support in this workbook. Whatever you are going through right now, remember that you are loved, you matter, and you are worth it. Get it here!
4 CBT Self-Help Resources For Anxiety
- Are you struggling with anxiety? Try this “Challenging Anxious Thoughts” worksheet! It will guide you through the CBT concept of irrational and rational thoughts in the context of anxiety. In order to work through this worksheet in the best way, we suggest working closely with a psychotherapist. Additionally, it may be helpful to complete the form multiple times based on different anxiety-producing scenarios. Get it here!
- This one is for the guys! Try the Anxiety Workbook for Men. This workbook is specially tailored to men who struggle with anxiety, depression, and worry. It could help you better understand the unique ways anxiety manifests for men, and offers the support you need to overcome the challenges you face. Get it here!
- Are you diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Then you could try The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Workbook: A Comprehensive CBT Guide for Coping with Uncertainty, Worry, and Fear. This book provides real, proven effective solutions. Based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), this workbook helps you identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that lead to anxiety. You’ll learn how to stop seeing uncertainty as frightening―which will in turn reduce your anxiety and instil a sense of calm. You’ll also discover how to use CBT techniques to cope with everyday stressors, such as job interviews, social situations, and exams. Get it here!
- Do you love yoga? You can combine yoga and CBT with The Yoga-CBT Workbook for Anxiety. This book provides the first research-based approach to combining the benefits of traditional psychological practices with the therapeutic benefits of kundalini yoga. You’ll learn how to effectively address both problematic thoughts and the physiological outcomes of emotional distress simultaneously using this unique combination of approaches. Get it here!
4 CBT Self-Help Resources For Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Are you diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)? Download this free packet of OCD-focused worksheets. There are two OCD worksheets contained in this packet: an exposure hierarchy template, as well as an exposure therapy homework sheet. Get it here!
- You could also try the CBT-focused Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Diary. This book is packed full of activities and journaling ideas to help you understand your obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). It includes Charlotte’s own design and entries, as well as activities adapted or expanded from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that help manage anxiety, avoidances, obsessions and compulsivities. Get it here!
- If you want a thorough way to overcome your OCD with self-help CBT, you could try the workbook called Needing to Know for Sure: A CBT-Based Guide to Overcoming Compulsive Checking and Reassurance Seeking. This unique guide provides proven-effective techniques using CBT to help people tolerate uncertainty, face specific worrisome scenarios, and gradually reduce their need for reassurance. Most importantly they’ll learn to cope with those pesky doubt attacks and trust their own judgment. Get it here!
- Another solid self-guided CBT resource for OCD is called Getting Over OCD by Dr. Jonathan Abramowitz. This resource can help you 1) learn how to manage obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), 2) develop a personalized treatment plan, 3) identify triggers and learn coping strategies, 4) discover ways to reduce anxiety and improve relationships, and even 5) learn how to break free of compulsive rituals. Get it here!
3 CBT Self-Help Resources For Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- For a complete beginners who need help with things like determining if you need to visit a therapist, try the book Overcoming Trauma and PTSD by Sheela Raja. This book provides proven-effective treatments based on CBT to help you overcome both physical and emotional symptoms of PTSD. It’ll help you to find relief from painful flashbacks and insomnia, and to figure out if you need to visit a therapist. Also included are worksheet, checklists, and exercise to help you start feeling well and begin your journey toward healing. Get it here!
- For an expert-guided approach to healing from PTSD, you could try The Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Workbook for PTSD. This workbook is made by a team of doctors and experts who specialize in treating PTSD. It offers a wide range of empirically supported CBT skills, including acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and cognitive processing therapy (CPT). This book combines the best in proven-effective treatment approaches to address specific symptoms, including those that are the most common and most challenging. Get it here!
- You can also try the Healing PTSD workbook by Dr. Sabina Mauro. This resource is filled with exercises, strategies, and tools based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps you manage your PTSD symptoms and develop healthy coping mechanisms for your PTSD. You’ll also learn how to identify your own triggers, overcome challenges, accept the uncertainty, and face your fears. Get it here!
FAQ: Self-Help Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Can I Do CBT On Myself?
Yes, it’s possible for most people to practice cognitive behavioral therapy on themselves. When taking a “self-help” approach to caring for yourself, you don’t need any special training or qualifications.
In fact, there are many people who have successfully used the techniques they learned from reading books and watching videos as an alternative form of therapy. It’s a completely valid and accessible way to start your healing journey from mental health struggles.
On the other hand, some therapists don’t recommend doing cognitive behavioral therapy on yourself because it might not work well enough to produce long-lasting results.
For example, when someone does CBT on himself/herself without professional supervision, he/she/they might find that his/her/their thoughts and feelings change too quickly for him/her/them to notice them.
Also, since most people aren’t trained to recognize negative thinking patterns, they could end up making changes based on faulty assumptions instead of facts.
So, When Should I Go To A Professional Counselor?
While, in general, going to see a therapist isn’t necessary if you’re just starting out with self-help strategies, sometimes seeing a counselor will make sense.
For instance, if you’ve tried everything else but still feel stuck, having a skilled person point out where you went wrong may help you get unstuck faster.
Also, if you think you’ll benefit more from working 1-on-1 with a qualified practitioner than from learning about CBT through self-help program materials alone, then this option makes sense.
Remember: If you decide to seek counseling, you don’t necessarily have to tell anyone why you did so. However, if you do share your reasons, you may receive different advice depending on whether you were seeking counseling due to personal concerns or family troubles.
How Long Does It Take To Heal From Your Issues After Doing CBT?
It depends on each person but most people find that they feel better within 1 month of starting cognitive behavioral therapy.
The good news is that even though healing may seem slow, it will eventually happen. It just might not happen right away.
That being said, some people experience relief much sooner than others. Some people also report feeling worse before getting better. So while it seems like it could take months to see results, it doesn’t always work that way.
How Does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Help Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders affect millions of Americans every year. They cause problems ranging from mild stress to severe panic attacks.
Fortunately, cognitive behavioral therapy helps treat these conditions effectively. By changing certain thought patterns of thinking, CBT can reduce symptoms such as worry, fear, anger, sadness, guilt, and depression.
What Types Of Disorders Are Best Treated By CBT?
The following are examples of anxiety disorders that can be treated by using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This disorder causes excessive worrying over everyday things. People who suffer from GAD often become anxious about many aspects of life including school, relationships, finances, and physical illness.
People suffering from generalized anxiety disorder tend to focus excessively on what could go wrong rather than focusing on what could go right. This leads to constant worries which interfere with daily activities.
A panic attack occurs when a person experiences intense terror along with physiological sensations such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, numbness, tingling, chills, hot flashes, etc. These episodes usually last less than 30 minutes.
However, there are times when panic attacks occur repeatedly throughout the day. In those cases, the individual suffers from panic disorder. Panic disorder affects approximately 3% of adults worldwide.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
When experiencing trauma, our bodies react automatically. Our brains release chemicals called neurotransmitters into our bloodstreams in order to protect us from danger.
Unfortunately, this process sometimes triggers flashbacks, nightmares, and other negative thoughts.
These reactions make PTSD sufferers relive traumatic events again and again. The result is an inability to function normally.
Symptoms include recurring memories of past traumas, avoidance behaviors, emotional numbing, hypervigilance, sleep disturbances, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and more.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD involves unwanted obsessive thoughts and compulsive actions. For example, someone with OCD may obsessively think about germs and cleanliness. Or he/she may compulsively wash his hands until they bleed.
In extreme cases, OCD sufferers may harm themselves through suicide attempts or violence towards loved ones.
Fortunately, cognitive behavioral therapy can help alleviate these types of obsessions and compulsions.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depressive disorder affects nearly 16 million American adults annually.
Depression can lead to feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, loss of interest in hobbies, weight gain or loss, insomnia, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and more.
Unfortunately, antidepressants only provide temporary relief. And medications alone cannot cure depression. That’s because depression stems from chemical imbalances in the brain.
Therefore, treating depression requires addressing both the mind and body.
What Should I Focus On When I Try CBT By Myself?
You’ll probably spend time focusing on three main areas during your self-help CBT sessions: identifying unproductive thoughts; challenging those thoughts; and replacing them with productive ones.
These steps are known collectively as “cognitive restructuring.”
1. Identifying Unproductive Thoughts
The first step in cognitive restructuring involves recognizing which kinds of thoughts make you anxious. When you identify these thoughts, you can then challenge them so that you no longer believe them. Once you’ve identified the thoughts that trigger your anxiety, you can use specific strategies to replace them with new beliefs.
2. Challenging Negative Thinking Patterns
Once you know how to identify a particular kind of thought pattern, you need to learn ways to deal with it. You do this through practice. This means repeating the same process over and over again until you get comfortable with it. As you repeat the process, you should gradually gain confidence in your ability to handle difficult situations.
3. Replacing Negative Beliefs With Positive Ones
When you want to eliminate a belief or behavior, you must come up with something positive to put its place. Once you know how to identify a particular kind of thought pattern, you need to learn ways to deal with it. You do this through practice. This means repeating the same process over and over again until you get comfortable with it. As you repeat the process, you should gradually gain confidence in your ability to handle difficult situations.
To Sum Up
All in all, we hope that our list will provide some useful information about how you can use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help you grow and heal.
Next time when you feel like giving up, remember that there is always light at the end of tunnel. If you still find yourself stuck somewhere along the way, try one of the many helpful cognitive therapy resources mentioned above.
If you find any other helpful resource please let us know by contacting us here. We would love to hear more about what works best for you!