4 column thought record (A complete guide)

The current blogpost will be based on the question “What is a 4 column thought record?”. We will discuss a four column thought record and all of its columns with specific details related to each column. We will also use an example to understand the 4 column thought record sheet.

What is a 4 column thought record?

A four column thought record is a worksheet that is used in cognitive behavior therapy inorder to obtain the client’s thought record. A 4 column thought record sheet is the baseline for cognitive restructuring and provides a record of all the thoughts that are triggered in the client’s mind as a result of  any activating event. 

The thought record sheet is mainly used in cognitive behavior therapy to point out and work with the cognitive bias of the client through cognitive restructuring. 

The 4 column thought record is helpful to be used with clients facing anxiety, depression, low mood, anger issues and impulsivity. It is also helpful to work with the clients of ;personality disorders to overcome their learned sense of helplessness, feeling of being inadequate, low self esteem, distorted self image, inflated self esteem and high emotional reactivity.

A 4 column thought record sheet helps the therapists and counselors to understand the client’s cognitive formation and its effect on his thoughts and behaviors. A 4 column thought record sheet is based on the following :

  • Situation
  • Automatic thought
  • Mood (emotion)
  • Behavior
  • Situation (First column of a 4 column thought record)

The first column of a 4 column thought record sheet is related to the situation. In this column the client has to write down the place and the scenario that activated the thoughts. The situation column answers “where, what and when did the incident happen that triggered the thought?”.

For example a client writes in the first column of his 4 column thought record that he was at university on a monday morning in class when the incident happened. The client also writes briefly as to exactly what situation happened. Like he may write that the teacher shouted at him for replying to his friend during the class lecture when it was his friend who initiated the talk.

  • Automatic thought (Second column of a 4 column thought record)

The second column of a 4 column thought record is Automatic thought. In this column the client records and writes his thoughts that started to hit his mind as a result of the triggering situation . the client is encouraged to write all the thoughts and the pure content of his thoughts without filtering out any element. 

The analysis of the thoughts in this column helps the client to identify and surface the cognitive distortion and the underlying schema of the client inorder to further work on the cognitive restructuring.

For example a client mentions that being scolded in class made him think that just like home, none understands him in class as well. There is no use in studying and coming to school for putting effort in the classwork when finally gain is being scolded.

  • Mood/emotion   (Third column of a 4 column thought record)

The third column in a 4 column thought record sheet is referred to as a column for noticing and recording the moods and emotions with regard to the  thoughts that were triggered in response to the triggering situation.

The mood and emotions contain various unpleasant and negative feelings that an individual may feel in response to the automatic negative thoughts.

The use of this column is to make the client understand the connection between his negative thoughts and feelings. This way the clients are better able to understand their thoughts as a cause for their negative and unpleasant feelings that are initiated by triggering events and situations.

For example, the client after being scolded in class and thinking that nobody is able to understand him in home and in school might feel being unfavoured, unwanted, neglected or inappropriate in life.

  • Behavior  (Fourth column of a 4 column thought record)

The fourth column of a 4 column thought record is behavior. This column tends to explore the behaviors and responses that occur in response to the triggering situations, the automatic negative thoughts and the unpleasant feelings and low emotional states. 

The behavior that occurs in response to the previous three columns is mostly negative and distorted in nature. 

The completed four column thought record hence enables the client to understand the impact of thoughts on feelings and subsequent behaviors.

The therapist then facilitates the clients to understand their cognitive patterns, cognitive distortions and underlying schemas in order to resolve the schemas that are lurking beneath the automatic negative thoughts.

For example, a client who was scolded in school and thought none understands him at school or at home felt humiliated and misunderstood. As a result his behavior would significantly change in school and he might lose his concentration and interest in class.

Conclusion

The current blogpost was based on the question “what is a 4 column thought record?”. We discussed a 4 column thought record sheet . We learned about the specific usage and importance of each column in a 4 column thought record sheet.

Frequently asked questions : 4 column thought record

What is the CBT thought record?

A cbt thought record is used to help the client identify the cognitive distortions and facilitate the process of cognitive restructuring in cognitive behavior therapy.

 

How do you describe a thought record?

A thought record is a worksheet that enables a client to understand his thoughts occurring in reaction to various triggering situations. Through the thought record sheet, a therapist can help the client to identify his underlying cognitive distortion and underlying schemas to implement the technique of cognitive restructuring.

 

 

 

When do you do a thought record?

A thought record is done with a client to help the client understand his negative automatic thoughts in response to various situations that tend to trigger them and thus create a negative behavior and unpleasant feeling. A thought record is mostly used in cognitive behavior therapy. 

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