CBT Thought Record Templates

Have a client struggling with intrusive or unhelpful thoughts but don’t know where to start? Our CBT Thought Record is a perfect jumping-off point to introduce your clients to thinking about thinking and dipping their toes into the hugely beneficial concepts of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

By Priya Singh on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

Use Template
CBT Thought Record Templates PDF Example
toolsShare uiAI icon

What Is A CBT Thought Record Template?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most widespread therapeutic techniques worldwide. It is based on the principle of targeting cognitive distortions to improve a client’s behavior and mood. There are various strategies for targeting a client’s cognitive distortions, with the first step almost always being to identify negative thought patterns in your client’s thinking. This is because if you don’t know the thoughts your client has and how these thoughts interact with their behavior and beliefs about themselves, how will you know what to focus on in therapy?

And that’s why we have created this simple but effective . This template doesn’t ask your client to engage in anything further than identifying thoughts they wish to explore, how this thought impacted their behavioral and physical response, and whether they can detect unhelpful thinking styles.

Other thought records also include space for your client to challenge their thoughts by weighing evidence for and against and creating a rational counterstatement to replace their original thought. While these are undoubtedly helpful strategies to learn, for many clients, writing down thoughts and thinking about their thinking can already be a lot to learn – so this simple CBT Thought Record is a great place for them to start. To see more detailed instructions on how your clients who may be newer to CBT can easily benefit from this template, just look at our how-to guide and keep reading!

Printable CBT Thought Record Template

Download this CBT Thought Record Template and teach your client how to challenge their negative thoughts.

How To Use This CBT Thought Record Template  

Download your free copy of the CBT Thought Record Template

You can download your editable PDF version of our CBT Thought Record template using the link on this page. Just download the PDF, save it locally, and you can edit the interactive fields using the PDF editor software of your choice. You can also find this template, and many others, from within the Carepatron app. 

Explain the activity to your client

Before providing your client with the CBT Thought Record template for them to complete on their own, ensure you give some background information on why it will be useful for them to document their thoughts and how to complete each section.

This template is set out in a simple table format with several columns to fill out for each entry. The prompts to fill out are:


It will be useful for your clients to have a date, or even a date and time, of their entry so they can pinpoint particular factors that may have made them think the way they did and keep an accurate chronology of their thoughts.


Before your client gets into their thought, we have provided them space to set the scene and add a little context. The “Situation” column is where they should write what they were doing, who they were with, and what external factors were at play.

Emotions/Physical Sensations

The last step before writing down their thoughts is for your client to picture the physical and emotional feelings they had due to the situation. Often the emotional or physical reaction to a situation can inform our thoughts, or vice versa, so it’s important for your client to practice acknowledging both the thought, and the emotional/physical response. 


This is where your client should write down their thought. If they are struggling with many thoughts, they can pick the one they find most distressing, which will be their “hot thought”.

Unhelpful Thinking Styles?

We have included a column asking your clients to check if they are using any unhelpful thinking styles, also known as cognitive distortions. This resource will not ask them to further challenge these thinking errors, as the goal is simply for your client to begin to recognize these thinking styles. 

My Response

This section is for your client to write down what they did in response to their thought. This could be a behavior they engaged in, or could be what they did mentally as a result of the situation. 

Discuss or Analyze your client’s responses

The completed CBT Thought Record can serve as a great discussion starter. In completing this activity, you and your client will likely be able to discern some valuable patterns in their thinking, which can inform any decisions for their therapy going forward. 

Store the Thought Record Securely

The last step is to ensure the completed CBT Thought Record is stored securely with the rest of your client’s therapeutic record, as it contains sensitive and confidential patient health information. 

CBT Thought Record Templates Example (Sample)

To get an idea of the kind of insights this template can provide you and your client, look at our sample CBT Thought Record template. This sample contains entries from a (fictional) client and can also be used to show your clients how to fill in this template when providing them with instructions for this activity. Take a look at the example template below, or download the sample template as a PDF for easy sharing or printing. 

Download this CBT Thought Record Template Example (Sample) here:

CBT Thought Record Templates Example (Sample)

Who Can Use these Printable CBT Thought Record Templates (PDF)?

This CBT Thought Record template is a versatile and widely applicable resource used by various mental health practitioners. These may be professionals who routinely see clients with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders, or could be other healthcare practitioners whose clients benefit from engaging with their thoughts.

Some of these professionals might be:

  • Psychotherapists
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Social Workers
  • Mental health counselors
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • Mental health workers

Why Is This Form Useful For Therapists?

Offer a fully digital resource

With the amount of clients a single practitioner may see in a day, we know that being able to print, manually fill in, and scan in documents is just too time-consuming to be a viable option in most practices. That’s why we have ensured all of our digital resources, as well as being printable, can also be edited entirely online and sent via email or secure digital file sharing. Just another way Carepatron saves you time!

Save time with pre-formatted resources

When it comes to therapeutic resources for well-known and widespread therapeutic techniques such as CBT, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Carepatron provides hundreds of templates, along with this CBT Thought Record template, to save you time formatting worksheets for your client, so you can spend more time helping your clients. 

Therapy Software Feedback

Benefits of CBT Thought Record Templates Template

Introduce your client to CBT concepts

It can be daunting for a client, particularly one new to therapy, to start hearing so many new terms, as well as learning to think in an entirely new way. This template can be a great way to help ease their introduction to these standard CBT practices- allowing them to engage with their thoughts in their own time.

Provide a stepping stone to more complicated CBT practices

That being said; we know that simply documenting thoughts will not be sufficient to make a significant difference in your patient’s cognition. You will likely begin to help your client learn to engage with and challenge these thoughts, which they will be better prepared for having used this CBT Thought Record as a stepping stone to these more involved techniques. 

Gain insights into your client’s thought process

Seeing real-life examples of how your patient responds to specific situations and hearing their thoughts in their own words can be an invaluable resource for a practitioner. These insights can help both you and your client understand areas to work on in therapy, and target their treatment as a result. 

Make informed therapeutic decisions

Your clients' responses to the CBT Thought Record task can also help to inform you and other members of their care team of the best therapeutic and treatment decisions going forward. Basing their treatment decisions on evidence such as a thought record is a great way to ensure your client receives an individualized and effective treatment plan.  

Engage your client in their therapy

Finally, this CBT Thought Record is a great way to keep your client engaged even between sessions with you. This helps to maintain consistency and improve treatment outcomes as progress is not limited to a single, often weekly, session with you. 

Why Use Carepatron For CBT Thought Record Software?

As well as being a state-of-the-art software suite made for sole practitioners and teams, Carepatron has kicked off a revolution in healthcare software availability by offering our starter tier subscription for $0 a month. You read that right! You don’t need to sign up for a free trial and get stung by a credit card fee one week later before you have even had time to get to know all the features. 

So here’s a little of what you can expect when you try out Carepatron:

Go paperless with fully digital forms, templates and more

We know the cost and time associated with printing, scanning, and filling out forms manually, so you’ll be pleased to hear that this CBT Thought Record template, and hundreds of others, are all available within Carepatron’s comprehensive template library as fully interactive resources- no printer required!

Open up flexible communication channels with your clients

SMS or email appointment reminders? Carepatron has you covered. Prefer telehealth appointments? No problem! Want to send your clients documents securely and digitally? We can do that too. Carepatron has been designed with mental health practitioners in mind, and with the increasingly digital and flexible healthcare landscape, Carepatron can help your practice adapt to offer your clients the highest standard of care that fits in with both of your schedules- whatever those look like!

Resources to support every stage of the treatment journey

This CBT Thought Record is a great starting point, but each stage in your client’s therapeutic journey will have different demands on documentation, worksheets, resources and support from you. Luckily, Carepatron can take a huge chunk of the work off your shoulders with our pre-made and formatted, interactive templates for progress notes, intake forms, worksheets, treatment plans and so much more!

Therapy Software
What thoughts go in a thought record?
What thoughts go in a thought record?

Commonly asked questions

What thoughts go in a thought record?

We will all have more thoughts than we could ever remember in a single day. Some will be positive, some negative, and some you may not have any strong emotional connection to. This CBT Thought Record is designed to target what are referred to as “hot thoughts” or thoughts that cause some kind of physical and emotional reaction, such as distress, anxiety, or sadness. That being said, any thought could work in this thought record as long as it is a thought you want to explore further and practice analyzing.

When should I complete a CBT Thought Record?

This will depend on your ability to find a quiet place and a few minutes to think through each of the prompts for your CBT Thought Record entry. If you notice a thought you want to record but don’t have time to fill out the rest of the columns, just add the date and the thought, and you can come back and fill in the rest when you have time. Another approach could be to save some time in the evening to reflect on thoughts you’ve had during the day and fill out all parts of the thought record then.

Who should use a CBT Thought Record Template?

There are no requirements as to who can complete a CBT Thought Record. Anyone who would like to work on exploring their thoughts, how they affect their behavior and mood, and how to counteract them can benefit from using this CBT Thought Record.

Join 10,000+ teams using Carepatron to be more productive

One app for all your healthcare work