Tool #5: Double Column Worksheet

Introduction

The double column worksheet is a flexible and simple tool for addressing a number of dysfunctional thoughts – its use is pervasive throughout Dr. Burn’s book, and some other tools are slight variations (e.g. three columns instead of two) upon the double column technique. You could create your own multi-column worksheets specifically addressing the problem or area you are struggling in.1These worksheets are so simple, yet something we don’t do, so we provide step-by-step instructions to encourage daily, systematic use of these tools.

You start with two rows and two columns. In the top-left column write a simple, concise description of the dysfunctional thoughts you are experiencing and in the top-right column label it something simple like, “Rebuttal” or “Truth”

In the lower-left column write the dysfunctional thought as you are experiencing it now. Then in the right-hand column write a response to this thought that focuses on being positive, optimistic, uplifting, realistic, and counters the negative thought.

At this point another negative thought is likely to come into your mind. Write it under the first thought, then write a rebuttal to it under the first rebuttal. Continue doing this until your dysfunctional thoughts have run out.

Here are some of the column labels Dr. Burns uses to address different issues:

ID  Issue Label Response Label Use To
1 “But” “Rebuttal” counter excuses for not doing x.
2 “Self-Deprecating Thought” “Self-Encouraging Thought” counter your tendency to minimize your achievements.
3 “Task-Interfering Cognition (TIC)” “Task-Oriented Cognition (TOC)” counter thoughts which encourage procrastination.
4 “Advantages of Procrastinating” “Disadvantages of procrastinating” examine if procrastinating right now is really what you desire.
5 “Failure Means” “Truly Failure Means” when you are afraid of failing.

Tool #5: Double Column Worksheet
(Burns 107-109)

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. These worksheets are so simple, yet something we don’t do, so we provide step-by-step instructions to encourage daily, systematic use of these tools.

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