Behavioural experiments

Use the behavioural experiment worksheet to help you to plan to face your fears.


When we avoid certain activities or situations it could be because we have made some assumptions that aren't necessarily true. For example, we might assume that the likelihood of certain events is greater than it is, or that the outcome of facing the situation will be worse than we can tolerate. We might assume that if the situation did turn out to be challenging that we wouldn't be able to cope with it or that we would have to deal with it alone and unaided.


The behavioural experiments worksheet asks us to identify the key assumption that we're making and then devise an experiment to test it. We start by identifying the situation or activity that we are avoiding and rate how strongly we believe it. We then devise an experiment to face that situation. We look at any unnecessary safety behaviours that we employ to deal with a potentially non-existent danger and how we could resist using them. We make a plan to try out the experiment and then evaluate the results in terms of how well the outcome fits our initial assumptions. Finally we re-rate our belief in the assumption and what we have learned.


Show instructions
What situation or activity would I like to cope with better?
What assumptions am I making about what would happen if I were to go into this situation or try this activity?
How strongly do I believe my assumption?
What experiment could I devise that would help me to test my assumption?
What problems might interfere with me learning from this experiment, such as subtle safety behaviours or avoidance?
What strategies do I need to put in place in order to carry out this experiment effectively?
Complete the following sections after you have carried out the experiment
Describe what happened: what was the outcome of this experiment?
How strongly do I now believe my assumption?
What have I learned from this experiment?


You can email the details of the form to yourself (or your CBT therapist, if appropriate), print it out, or download it as a pdf. If you want to save your entries so that you can work on them later, you can click "Save". You can delete your settings by clicking on "Cancel" when the page is reloaded and they will be deleted automatically. You can also click the "Clear" button at any time to reset the form and delete your saved data. Saving the data uses local storage, which means your data is never passed to us. Some browsers do not allow local storage. If you have a problem saving, check whether a different browser, or a different device, might work better. Your confidentiality is very important to us so your saved data will never be sent to us or shared. If you use a shared device, or think that another person might get access to it, please consider the risk of accidentally breaching your own privacy before choosing to save, email or download your use of these resources.