A DRDT, or a Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts, is a very useful CBT task designed to uncover and challenge automatic/negative thoughts.
The main goals of a DRDT are:
1- To help the client gain greater insight on what is motivating their negative feelings, such as those commonly related to low self-worth and/or anxiety, as well as unproductive behaviours.
2- To challenge negative and biased thinking.
It is quite common not to be aware of the reasons why you feel “so bad” or demotivated, for instance. With the help of a DRDT, you can target errors in thinking that are fuelling your emotional discomfort. Biased and distorted thoughts are analysed objectively, allowing you to problem-solve more confidently, while adopting a more productive attitude.
Step 1: Create a DRDT
A DRDT or Thought Journal/Record traditionally comes in 6 columns: “Date”, “Situation”, “Feelings”, “Automatic Thoughts”, “Alternative Responses” and “Outcome”. As a DRDT is used to monitor your thoughts on a regular basis, it is worth keeping it light and small so you can carry it around with you.
Step 2: Fill in a DRDT
A DRDT is to be filled in when you notice a change in your mood. If you are watching TV and suddenly start feeling a bit low, get your DRDT out and start filling in the 6 columns with the appropriate information asap. The later you write down your thoughts from the moment you have them, the more likely you are to forget all those important details. It takes little time to do it, not more than a few minutes.
Date: write down the exact date of you thought.
Situation: describe where you were and what was happening/what you were doing when you had your thought.
Feelings: record your emotions, rating them from 0 to 100%.
Automatic Thoughts: write exactly what you were thinking, word by word. If your thought was an image, describe it in detail.
Alternative Responses: add an objective response that challenges the veracity of your automatic thought. The alternative response represents the more rational you, the person you are when you react in a sensible, logical and reasonable manner.
Outcome: detail how you felt and what you did after identifying and challenging your automatic thought.
Step 3: Analyse your DRDT
After you have a completed a Daily Record of Dysfunctional Thoughts for 7 days, sit down and take some time to read through all your automatic thoughts.
Are you able to find a common theme?
What cognitive errors can you identify?
What do your automatic thoughts say about you?
Which automatic thoughts affected you the most?
Which alternative responses caused the greatest change in your feelings and behaviours?
For a free DRDT sample, click here