What is a Reality Testing Worksheet?
Whenever we go through terrible experiences, get involved in horrible situations, or have an unfavorable outcome, it’s normal to feel bad, disappointed, and fearful about what comes next. While this is normal and it’s okay to feel any of those emotions, it’s important to note that if they are excessive and debilitating, there are effective coping mechanisms.
Reality Testing Worksheets were created for people who normally expect the worst outcomes as a result of bad experiences, or they exaggerate what is going on when something bothers them. These worksheets help clients examine their thoughts regarding certain situations and provide prompts/exercises that will help them challenge and re-evaluate how they think so they are more realistic with their expectations.
Always thinking and expecting the worst is an irrational and distorted thinking pattern, and this can lead to anxiety, paranoia, depression, and other mental states that are detrimental to a person’s health. Using Reality Testing Worksheets may help with combating distorted thinking patterns by teaching clients to be more self-aware and realistic, and to think critically to improve their overall well-being!
How to use this Reality Testing Worksheet
Reality Testing Worksheets come in different forms, but one of the most common forms is the one where clients do the following:
- They indicate a situation or thought that they have
- They classify the kind of negative thinking they have on that situation or thought (the types of negative thinking are usually defined via the instructions)
- They take a step back and indicate more realistic thoughts regarding the situation/thought they originally had
- And last, they determine actionable steps that will result in more favorable outcomes rather than what they have been fearing
This is the form of the Reality Testing Worksheet that we will discuss, and it is an imitation of the Reality Testing Worksheet made by the Waterloo Student Success Office. While their version is for students, we made a few tweaks to the version here so that it also accommodates adults.
Step 1: Issue this worksheet to your client and have them read the instructions.
When you have a client exhibiting signs that they tend to overthink and catastrophize situations, and they do so in unhealthy ways, then you should issue this worksheet to them as soon as possible.
The client will be the one engaging with this worksheet the most, so besides issuing this to them, it’s also best to inform them about why you are asking them to fill out this worksheet. Read them the instructions, which ask them to think objectively about things, to think first before reacting, and to consider other perspectives before making a judgment on the matter.
There are also examples to read out so they have an idea of what to indicate in the worksheet and a general list of errors in thinking that they might be doing.
Step 2: The client will indicate situations or thoughts that they view in a negative or exaggerated light.
Completing this worksheet is not difficult. The instructions are straightforward and given there are examples and even definitions of certain terms, the client shouldn’t encounter any difficulty. All they need to do is to:
- Indicate the situation or thought that they view in a negative or exaggerated light
- Indicate what they do in response to those views
- Indicate the error in thinking that best matches the way they view the problem
- Indicate a more realistic view of the problem
- And then indicate actionable steps so that they reach more favorable outcomes or get clarifications (the steps will vary depending on the problem)
Step 3: Use their answers as discussion points for later sessions.
You can have your client keep the copy for a while, given that it has multiple boxes where they can jot down their negative views on situations/thoughts.
You can use what they wrote as discussion points for your subsequent sessions. You can also build on their actionable steps to help them work through their negative thinking and develop the key skills to manage such thoughts healthily.
Reality Testing Worksheet Example
Now that you know what Reality Testing Worksheets are and what they aim to do, it’s time for you to see what it looks like. Here is a filled-out Reality Testing Worksheet sample:
This worksheet is inspired by the one made by the Waterloo Student Success Office.
If what you see strikes your fancy and this is an effective tool to add to your roster of mental health worksheets, then feel free to download a printable Reality Testing Worksheet PDF from our platform! You can print copies for your face-to-face sessions (whether in your clinic or through house calls), or if going paperless is your thing, you can send this to your patient online or through a telehealth call.
We also recommend that you check out our other worksheets. They might help you cover more ground with your client.
When is the best time to use this Reality Testing Worksheet?
On the part of the healthcare professional who has this worksheet for their work, the best time to issue this to their client is during a session where they have identified that their client tends to overthink and catastrophize situations more so than normal.
On the client's part, they can work on it as soon as the healthcare professional handling them issues it. They can do it on the spot, or if they need more time or space to work on it, they can do it at home.
If they keep the worksheet with them, they can engage with it whenever they suddenly start having negative and irrational thoughts about something causing them anxiety and distress. This worksheet can help them calm down and take a step back to relax and consider other perspectives before jumping to conclusions.
The worksheet has multiple boxes to accommodate those who have several negative and irrational thoughts. By design, they can use this whenever necessary to help them work through their negative thoughts.
Who can use this Reality Testing Worksheet?
Since the Reality Testing Worksheet deals with mental health, the following healthcare professionals can use this for their work:
- (Clinical) Psychologists
- (Mental Health) Therapists
So long as the professional is trained and experienced in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or another type of psychotherapy, they can add this worksheet to their roster of tools.
If you are not receiving therapy under a professional, you may still use this if you believe it can help you develop critical thinking skills. However, we do recommend that you see an actual therapist if you are resorting to using this worksheet.
What are the benefits of using this Reality Testing Worksheet?
It helps healthcare professionals identify negative thought patterns.
Reality Testing Worksheets in general may help healthcare professionals identify the negative thought patterns that their clients have. You can only glean so much information from a face-to-face session, but a worksheet can reveal more of the client’s true experiences, allowing them to develop a care plan the client will benefit from.
This can help the client become more self-aware.
Sometimes, people can get lost in their negative thoughts and remain unaware that they are overthinking or catastrophizing situations. By engaging with this worksheet and following the instructions to the letter, they might be able to get the necessary distance they need to properly examine their negative thoughts and realize that what they are doing is detrimental to their mental health.
This can help clients develop critical thinking skills and ground their thoughts.
By becoming more self-aware of how they tend to think about certain things, opportunities arise for them to take a step back and consider that there are more sides to a situation and there are several ways to take that will prevent them from reaching whatever unfavorable outcomes they have had in mind. By considering more possibilities and determining actionable steps to bypass their negative thoughts, they can develop a more realistic way of thinking about things, which, in turn, helps them manage their negative emotions and even reduces the negative emotions and thoughts they have.
Why use Carepatron for mental health-related software?
If you are a healthcare professional who specializes in dealing with and treating clients with mental health issues, then you would be delighted to know that Carepatron houses a wide variety of worksheets, assessments, general treatment plans, and more that will streamline and improve your work!
Just so you know, if you have a client that tends to have negative and irrational thoughts about certain matters, there might be more to them than meets the eye, so the Reality Testing Worksheet might not be enough.
While this worksheet might be a big help when it comes to reframing how a client thinks, you might want to use other worksheets to cover more ground. If their unhealthy thinking has resulted in them developing anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders, then you are going to need a more comprehensive look at your patient. So, we recommend that you read more of our mental health-related guides and the respective worksheets and assessments that they cover. Who knows? You might find a bunch that you think are worth using to improve the way you conduct your therapy sessions and examinations.
Accessing our platform also grants you access to a nifty storage system that helps you create digital backups of your files, secure them with tight access permissions, and store them in a HIPAA-compliant manner!
Our storage system also makes your files easily accessible to you whenever you need to, wherever you are, on any capable device you might have with you, so long as you have internet access. This is perfect, especially if you are conducting your therapy/counseling sessions via house call. You can simply open Carepatron and download blank worksheets or assessments from your storage and then use them!
Convenience. Accessibility. Security. You get all three with Carepatron.