Three Column Technique

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Three Column Technique

One technique to help you challenge your negative/irrational thinking is the Three Column Technique. Simply fold a piece of paper in thirds. Label the first column "Event", the second column "Thought/Thinking/Perception" and the third column "Feeling/Behavior". The technique highlights the fact that it is not events that affect our mood or behavior but our interpretation or thoughts about the event. See the example below.

1st Column: Event-I had a first date with Gretchen and it seemed to go well. I asked her out this week. She said she was too busy.

2nd Column: Thought/Thinking/Perception-She does not like me.

3rd Column: Feelings/Behavior-Sad. Frustrated. I won't bother to ask her out again.

So it's not the event that triggered the sadness, but this individual's thinking about the event. Note his thinking error-Mind Reading, making an assumption about Gretchen without much evidence.