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J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2012 Mar;43(1):540-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.07.003. Epub 2011 Jul 14.

Examining the effects of thought records and behavioral experiments in instigating belief change.

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Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK.



While the efficacy and effectiveness of CBT protocols are well established, much less is known about the comparative contribution of the various techniques within CBT. The present study examined the relative efficacy, in comparison to a control condition, of two central techniques in CBT: thought records (TRs) and behavioral experiments (BEs).


A mixed within and between participants design was used to compare the efficacy of a single session TR and a single session BE intervention with a control intervention, in a non-clinical sample. Ninety one participants were randomly allocated to one of the three conditions.


The overall pattern of results suggests that both TR and BE had a beneficial therapeutic impact in comparison to the control condition on beliefs, anxiety, behavior and a standardized measure of symptoms. There was evidence of a small advantage of the BE over the TR intervention in that the target belief changed earlier and change generalized to beliefs about others as well as the self.


The findings confirm the utility of both TR and BE interventions and point to BEs as more useful in effecting belief change in that the change in the BE condition occurred sooner and generalized further.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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