CBT for Depression

Examples of Don's online exercises


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Don's Stress Log Exercises Watch the Thought Challenge Tutorial

Don's Thought Challenge Example - 1

In this cognitive behavioral therapy exercise Don chose to challenge the thought "I am a loser" because it was the most depressing automatic negative thought he had at the moment.

I want to challenge my own thoughts

I am a loser

I lost my job

Right now I don’t have an income to support my family

I have saved so little that in a few years I’ll be a burden to my sons

I was able to support my family for many years

I’ve been a decent father and husband

I was respected at work until that last boss came around

I’ve had some success in life, some mistakes. Right now I’m going through a rough moment, but it’s up to me to make the most of it

I am a loser


I am a loser



Don’s negative interpretation of reality also affects his description of the supporting evidence. His therapist could later also question the certainty that he will depend financially on his sons in the near future and whether they will consider this a burden.

Challenging the statement of being a loser helps Don judge his success including times, and areas of his life, beyond his current employment problems


Don's Thought Challenge Example - 2

In this Thought Challenge Don is questioning the automatic negative thought "When I run out of money she'll leave me". Many of the thoughts that make him feel the most depressed are related to how his unemployment changes his self-value in relation to loved ones.

When I run out of money she'll leave me

She walks away and goes out for drives when I get irritable

She no longer looks at me with the admiration she used to

There can’t be any other reason for her to stick around me if I am not providing for her

She has lived with me for more than 30 years

She has always been loyal to me

She has been able to tolerate me for a long time

If I stay this irritable my wife might start avoiding me more, but she probably will never leave me. And it is up to me how much I isolate myself

When I run out of money she'll leave me


When I run out of money she'll leave me



This exercise is not meant for Don to accurately predict whether his wife will indeed leave him. The goal for Don is to realize that this idea, that is tormenting him, is far from certain and that he can greatly influence what happens.