5 column thought record sheet

The current blogspot will be based on the question “what is the 5 column thought record?”. It will elaborate on each column of the 5 column thought record sheet and describe its utilization with an example.

What is a 5 column thought record?

The five column thought record is based on :

  • Situations Column
  • Thoughts  Column
  • Emotions  Column
  • Behaviors  Column
  • Alternate thought  Column

An example of the 5 column thought record based on the situation, thoughts, emotions, behaviors and alternate thoughts can be seen at https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/thought-record.pdf

Situations (The first column of the 5 column thought record sheet)

The first column of the 5 column thought record sheet is situation. The situation column is meant to gain the knowledge  about the event that triggered the dysfunctional or the negative automatic thoughts. 

In the situation column the individual writes about when did the event occur, where did the event occur, what was the person doing when the event occurred, how did the event occur and who were the people involved in the situation that led to triggering of the event.

An example of the first column of the thought record is a person describing a car accident that led to anxiety and fearfulness in the individuals.

The person describes the place where the incident happened and what made the incident happen. The individual answers the questions related to how the incident happened and what the individual was doing while the incident happened.

Thoughts (The second column of the 5 column thought record sheet)

The second column of the 5 column thought record sheet is “Thoughts”. The individual is tasked to record whatever negative automatic thoughts come to their mind at the time of the situation that triggered the thoughts.

The individuals taking cognitive behavior therapy are  requested to record their thoughts in the purest form without the fear of being judged or analyzed. In this way the therapist can better understand their underlying cognitive distortions and later help them restructure their underlying cognitive patterns.

The cognitive patterns that lead to the negative thoughts are based on the 15 cognitive distortions that are listed as below:

  • Black and white thinking
  • Overgeneralization
  • Mental filtering
  • Mind reading
  • Should and musts
  • Labelling
  • Catastrophizing
  • Personalization
  • Blaming
  • Controlled Fallacies
  • Fallacy of fairness
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Fallacy of change
  • Global reasoning
  • Being Right
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

For example, the above  individual after undergoing the accident and mentioning about the situation in detail would now mention all the thoughts that rushed into his mind as the result of the unpleasant event. He may write that he felt like running away or fainting or shouting out aloud. The individual may have experienced that now the police will take him away to jail and he will be imprisoned forever. 

Emotions (The third column of the 5 column thought record sheet)

The third column of the 5 column thought record sheet is emotions. This column is based on the feelings that result due to uncertain and unpleasant events. The emotions related to the unpleasant and uncertain event are usually filled with negative expressions and feelings for example anger, rage, guilt, frustration or irritability.

The person’s affect and the mood are also negatively affected as the negative automatic thoughts strike their mind. As the triggering situation leads to the vicious cycle in which the negative thoughts give rise to negative feelings.

For example, in the result of the above accident, the individual’s thoughts might lead him to either run away from the situation or to shout in rage and fight with the other person. Such an individual will fill in the emotion column of the 5 column thought record sheet with all the unpleasant and negative emotions that rush to him as the situation happens. Usually due to the fight and flight response under such situations, individuals are mostly hit with negative and exaggerated emotional states.

Behaviors (The fourth column of the 5 column thought record sheet)

The fourth column of the 5 column thought record sheet is behavior. This column is based on the behaviors that occur as a result of unpleasant and certain situations. The triggering situations trigger various negative thoughts that lead to negative emotional states and behaviors. 

The individual tasked with the thought record sheet writes about all the behaviors that occurred as a result of the triggering event in the behavior column. The behaviors are usually negative as they are associated with negative feelings and the associated negative emotional states. 

For example, the individual after meeting an accident might hit his head hard on the ground or run away in an unknown direction or faint down due to inner fear. 

The behaviors of the individuals are mostly disproportionate to the situation. As the individuals  think and feel in ways that are irrational and overwhelming.

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Alternate thought (The fifth column of the 5 column thought record sheet)

The fifth and the last column of the five column thought record sheet is alternate thought. The individual tends to mindfully think about the various alternate thoughts that are more rational as compared to the previous thoughts that were automatically triggered as a result of an unpleasant and uncertain situation. 

The alternate thoughts are more rational and are more justified in response to the triggering event as compared to the negative automatic thoughts that occur as a train of thoughts and are based on the 15 cognitive distortions that include :

  • Black and white thinking
  • Overgeneralization
  • Mental filtering
  • Mind reading
  • Should and musts
  • Labelling
  • Catastrophizing
  • Personalization
  • Blaming
  • Controlled Fallacies
  • Fallacy of fairness
  • Emotional reasoning
  • Fallacy of change
  • Global reasoning
  • Being Right
  • Heaven’s Reward Fallacy

For example, the client who experiences the accident and the associated negative thoughts and feelings would mindfully think about the alternate positive thoughts that are justified as per the situation. The alternate thoughts to the negative automatic thoughts can range from one to many different rational thoughts. The individual might think about what he did wrong in the situation, he might think about how he can prevent such accidents from happening in the near future and what were the positive aspects of the situation.

Conclusion

The current blogspot elaborated on each column of the 5 column thought record sheet that is used for cognitive restructuring and getting insight about the underlying behavioral patterns of the individual undergoing cognitive behavior therapy. We learned that the 5 column thought record sheet provides an opportunity to the individual to form alternate thoughts in response to the triggering event and replace the negative automatic thoughts with new rational thoughts.

Frequently asked Questions (FAQs): 5 column thought record sheet

What is a thought record?

A thought record is an interventional tool utilized to gain insight about an individual’s thoughts related to the associated triggering situations and the impact of those thoughts on the emotions and behaviors.  The insight from the thought record sheet is used to restructure the distorted thought patterns of the individuals.

What is an automatic thought record?

An automatic thought record sheet is used to gain knowledge about the various negative automatic thoughts  of an individual to analyse the underlying cognitive distortion.

What are dysfunctional thoughts?

The dysfunctional thoughts are the thoughts in cognitive behavior therapy that are overwhelming and exaggerated as compared to the nature of the triggering event. The dysfunctional thoughts tend to distort an individual’s rational thought pattern.

Citations

https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheet/thought-record

https://positivepsychology.com/thought-records/

https://www.psychologytools.com/professional/techniques/thought-records/

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