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The Cognitive Triangle

The cognitive triangle illustrates how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This idea forms the basis of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).

Perhaps most important to CBT, when a person changes their thoughts, they will also change their emotions and behaviors. By targeting irrational or maladaptive thoughts, mood and behavior can be improved.

The Cognitive Triangle worksheet introduces the cognitive behavioral model. A simple diagram, along with brief explanations of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, make the central concepts of CBT as intuitive as possible.

The goal of this handout is to do one thing really well: teach the cognitive model. We recommend using this worksheet as an in-session aid while teaching the CBT triangle. Then, send a copy home with clients to accompany thought logs, or other homework assignments.

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Alternate languages: Spanish
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