Working to move clients from self-defeating thoughts to coping ones, Donald Meichenbaum's cognitive-behavior therapy includes the technique termed self-talk in which a client examines automatic illogical thoughts with the intent of changing the underlying assumptions that are responsible for beliefs and actions. Stress inoculation is the practice of making positive self-statements. The client keeps a daily journal of dysfunctional thoughts, noting situations and emotions that trigger the irrational beliefs and learning to counter irrational beliefs with rational responses.


1. Socratic dialogue - involves the use of questions to point out the client's maladaptive thoughts and stuck points. Primary categories of questions are: clarification, probing assumptions, probing reasons, or evidence, questioning viewpoints or perspectives, analyzing outcomes, and questions about questions.

2. Self-monitoring - sometimes called "diary work" and is used to document the degree and amount of targeted thoughts and behaviors occurring between sessions or during a given event or timeframe.

3. Behavioral rehearsal and role-playing - client imagines a target situation, and the therapist guides the client through a step-by-step process of successfully coping with the situation. The client then practices the steps in a 'mental rehearsal' in a variety of ways.

4. Problem solving - counselor teaches the client problem-solving skills, and an identified problem (described in clear, concrete, goal-oriented terms) is explored by generating solutions to the situation, evaluating each potential alternative for short and long-term consequences, and finally selecting a course of action and following up on that course of action after implementation.

5. Modeling - involves demonstrating something for the client and having the client replicate the desired behavior.

6. Decatastrophizing ("what if") - therapist has the client state his/or her feared consequence of a situation and then identify strategies for coping.

7. Redefining - assisting the client in making the problem more specific, concrete, and individual to the client's behavior.

8. Decentering - helpful with anxious clients who believe they are the focus of others. The technique is to set up experiments to challenge client's belief and assist him/or her to see that others are not focused upon the client.

9. Cognitive restructuring - involves identifying, challenging, and changing faulty beliefs and distortions in thinking through examining logic, testing the truth of the thought or belief, and finding alternative explanations.

10. Systematic desensitization - pairing of relaxation with exposure to something the client reports as stressful.

11. Homework - clients are given homework to reinforce learning through monitoring automatic thoughts and/or behavioral activation, reviewing the previous therapy session or preparing for the next session.

12. Psychoeducation - this provides the client with information, education, or skills training on specific areas to facilitate change, such as parenting, obesity, smoking, or medication management.