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Thought Defusion cognitive distancing techniques

Thoughts can easily consume our attention, particularly when they’re distressing. When this happens, we can fixate on a thought such that we’re unable to focus on anything else. This is called being fused with thoughts.

Thought defusion techniques provide a way out of this trap. Derived from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), these defusion techniques work by shifting attention away from the content of thoughts to the process of thinking. The result is less mental turmoil and overthinking, as well as a more balanced perspective.

Our Thought Defusion Techniques worksheet introduces this powerful ACT intervention, offers tips on when to use it, and presents eight user-friendly examples. For example, the Zoom Out technique asks clients to imagine floating high above the earth, where everything below looks tiny and insignificant. Seen from this distance, problems and worries appear less threatening. Clients can choose from the eight techniques based on what they find appealing and effective.

Use this worksheet to familiarize clients with thought defusion techniques. These skills are helpful for a variety of challenges, including anxiety, depression, overthinking, and general overwhelm. By learning to attach less significance to their thoughts, clients gain more time and energy to enjoy life and work toward their goals.

For related ACT tools, see our Confronting Avoidance and Becoming Psychologically Flexible worksheets.