Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Workshop
Step #2: Rating Your Thoughts and Feelings, Identifying Thinking Styles
The next step is to make ratings for how much you believe your thoughts and how intense your feelings are. If you look again at Helen's Automatic Thought Record you see that she has put ratings next to each thought and each feeling.
On a scale from 0 to 100 percent, you should rate how much you believe each separate thought. As you might imagine, 0 percent would be absolutely no belief in the thought, while 100 percent indicates that you completely and wholeheartedly believe that the thought is true. It's not unusual to have a variety of thoughts about any situation, but you'll likely find that some thoughts are stronger than others.
For Helen, her strongest thought was "He is angry with me," as she rated her belief in it as 90 percent. She rated her belief in her thoughts, "Something terrible has happened to me" as 65 percent, and "He never calls when he says he will" as 45 percent.
Helen then rated the intensity of her feelings of anxiety (90 percent) and sadness (55 percent). Here, 100% would be the most extreme experience of a feelings, 50% might be a moderate feeling, while 0% would be no feeling at all. As with each of your thoughts, make sure you give each feeling its own rating of intensity.
With regard to Thinking Styles, look at each Automatic Thought you recorded, then go to the Thinking Styles list and try to identify which one describes each thought. Sometimes only one Thinking Style characterizes a thought, while at other times two or even three Thinking Styles seem appropriate. Go ahead and write each one that applies next to each thought. Oftentimes, people find that simply recognizing the Thinking Styles they are engaging in is helpful. It signals an error in thinking. This signal is a good first step to reducing a belief in a negative thought and the intensity of the distressing feelings it causes.