Tool #1: Goodbye Internal Critic Worksheet


The Goodbye Internal Critic Worksheet is essentially Dr. Burns’ “Triple Column Technique” (Figure 4-1) found on page 62.

  • Begin by writing down the amount of distress you are feeling on a scale from 1-100.
  • Then write down the automatic thought that is causing this distress.
  • Look over the list of Cognitive Distortions found on the main CBT page and determine which one(s) is/are currently causing your negative thought.
  • Enter in Rational Response a counterargument to this thought.
  • If you can’t find a true rational response to a negative thought, leave it till later or ask someone else to help you think of a true counterargument.


  •  “You do not try to cheer yourself up by rationalizing or saying things you do not believe are objectively valid. Instead, try to recognize the truth. If what you write down in the Rational Response column is not convincing and realistic, it won’t help you one bit.” (Burns 64)
  • “Do not use words describing your emotional reactions in the Automatic Thought column. Just write the thoughts that created the emotion…you can’t disprove [an emotion] with a rational response.” (Burns 65)
  • “It is crucial to write down your automatic thoughts and rational responses; do not try to do the exercise in your head. Writing them down forces you to develop much more objectivity than you can ever achieve by letting responses swirl through your mind. It also helps you locate the mental errors that depress you.” (Burns 69)

Tool #1: Goodbye Internal Critic Worksheet

Distress Before (1-100)Automatic ThoughtCognitive DistortionRational ResponseDistress After (1-100)
801. I will always be depressed.Overgeneralization.1. I have felt happy in the past, there is no reason why this should not occur in the future. I am taking concrete steps to help ensure that my depression is lessened in the future and I can realistically expect results.75
502. I am a bad husband/wife.Dichotomous Thinking.2. If sometimes doing bad things means I am a bad spouse, then sometimes doing good things would mean I am a good spouse. But I do both. Using abstract terms will not help me be a better spouse, so I will abandon them and instead focus on practical ways in which I want to improve.20
303. I will never get out of debt and therefore I will never be able to have fun or relax. Overgeneralization3. I can take concrete steps towards getting out of debt. But even if debt will always be with me, I don’t have to let it control my life. One doesn’t need money to have fun or to relax.2
Add your automatic thought here.Add the cognitive distortion here.Add your rational response here.

See pg. 63 for Burns “triple-column technique” which includes more/better examples than here. There is also Dr. Beck’s Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts which is more detailed on pg. 66.