Updated: Nov 21, 2022
Challenge thoughts, manage anxiety, and deal with conditions like PTSD with helpful CBT worksheets
“Let’s look at this worksheet.”
If you are a CBT therapist (or have one) then this might be a familiar phrase.
That's because CBT worksheets are an effective way to reinforce skills learned in therapy. You can also learn the basic CBT techniques on your own for everyday challenges, even if you’re not in therapy.
Often I find that that typical therapy worksheets are written in dense, confusing language and filled with eye-watering charts to fill out. With that in mind, worksheets chosen are more accessible and readable.
All worksheets are printable PDFs, evidence-based, and curated by a CBT therapist. They work well for teens, adults, groups and telehealth.
The best one(s) will depend on your needs, so feel free to scan and find what will help you the most. All items are digital, which makes them great for in-person or telehealth sessions.
Need resources right away? Skip ahead to here take a look at the CBT for anxiety and PTSD bundle.
CBT for Anxiety CBT for PTSD
Emotions Wheel & Regulating Emotions
Bundled Package for Anxiety and PTSD
Games and Activities:
Grounding Stone Activity
CBT L-I-N-G-O (Bingo-Like Game)
CBT Digital Board Game (CBT Quest)
CBT worksheets and tools are typically very structured, and follow the cognitive behavioral therapy approach. The basic idea of CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is that patterns of thinking impact everything else. How we think about things can make life better or worse, regardless of the circumstances.
Our thoughts influence our feelings, which lead to our behaviors. The printable worksheets below start with the basic approach and expand into specialized areas, such as using CBT to treat PTSD.
You’ll find multiple free CBT therapy worksheets, in PDF form, along with premium options on this list. Some of these I created myself based on my training and experience providing therapy, and others I have reviewed and found helpful and consistent with research and best practices.
If you are a therapist, it’s ideal to have basic training and experience with the CBT approach to support your use of these tools with clients.
If you are looking for self-help, or tools for your clients, then learning the basic idea of reframing negative thinking can be helpful. However, if you’re dealing with mental health issues, then make sure to seek out professional help for these conditions rather than going it alone.
CBT Triangle Worksheets
The CBT triangle is a commonly used tool to describe the basic principles of this therapy.
CBT itself was developed by Aaron Beck. He noticed that many people in therapy continued to suffer from mental health conditions such as depression, even as therapy progressed.
He termed the phrase “automatic thoughts,” to describe the thinking pattern many people experience. Most significantly, Dr. Beck found that how people thought about a situation resulted in how they experienced it, regardless of the situation itself.
Most significantly, Dr. Beck found that how people thought about a situation resulted in how they experienced it, regardless of the situation itself.
For example, someone may be running late for work. If they begin to think about getting fired and all of the things that would result from that, they might feel panicked or frustrated, and start driving erratically.
Alternatively, the same person may think differently, coaching themselves in a positive way. They may think, “I rarely run late, and my boss is very understanding, so it will be okay.” With this change in thinking, they are likely to think more clearly and avoid feeling anxious. They may then calmly text their boss and drive carefully but efficiently toward work.
This process demonstrates the event (running late), the thought (catastrophizing versus positive self-talk) and the behavior (erratic driving versus planning).
The CBT triangle is a visual depiction of how thoughts impact our experience. It includes thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as a cycle that moves between points on the triangle, with the prompting event (trigger) in the middle.
These worksheets use this basic process, typically in triangle form. They either explain the process or include prompts to help you or your clients recognize and change the pattern.