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  1. To examine the concept of rational or useful beliefs.
  2. To develop skill in challenging dysfunctional beliefs.
  3. To build assertive thought patterns.

Group Size
Up to ten groups of three members each.

Time Required
One hour and fifteen minutes.


  1. A pencil, blank paper, and a copy of the Right Thinking Work Sheet for each participant.
  2. Newsprint, felt-tipped markers, and masking tape for the facilitator.


  1. The facilitator states the goals of the activity and gives a brief lecturette on erroneous or counter- productive thoughts.
  2. The facilitator gives some examples of assertive situations and asks participants to volunteer some fears ("Ogres") the subject in each situation might have, to identify any of these fears that may qualify as dysfunctional beliefs, and to suggest some counterbeliefs or "Challenges" to those dysfunctional beliefs.
  3. The facilitator instructs participants to choose assertive situations of their own that they would like to work on, to imagine themselves in the situation, and to determine what they are afraid will happen if they are assertive and what dysfunctional beliefs they may hold in the situation. (Ten minutes).
  4. The facilitator gives participants paper and pencils and asks them to make lists of the ogres involved in their situations, for example:
    If I tell her now I really feel .....
    She won’t like me more.
    I’II feel terrible.
    She might tell other negative things about me.
    I might lose my job.
    I’II never be able to face her again.
  5. The facilitator gives participants copies of the Right Thinking Work Sheet and tells them to form groups of three to share their lists and to help each other develop lists of challenges or counter beliefs for as many of their agres as possible using the work sheet questions as guidelines. (Fifteen to twenty minutes.)
  6. The facilitator points out the importance of recognizing dysfunctional beliefs in assertive situations and immediately replacing them with challenges. He or she tells participants to spend several minutes imagining themselves in the assertive situations again, getting in touch with and imagining their fears or ogres, and practicing pushing the fears back by repeating the corresponding challenges to themselves. (Five to ten minutes).
  7. The facilitator asks participants to discuss in their small groups ways in which they can use the challenge techniques they have learned to deal with dysfunctional beliefs in their daily lives.
  8. The facilitator directs participants to share with the large group some of the ways in which they plan to use what they have learned from the activity.


  1. In Step V one person can read one of his or her ogres aloud and the other two members of the triad can read the corresponding challenges. The group members can then reverse roles: two members can read ogres and the third respond with his or her corresponding challenges.
  2. Thought stopping can be practiced in Step V.
  3. The following sequence can be used at the beginning of the experience or after Step V to help illustrate the principles involved in cognitive assertion and changing irrational beliefs :
  1. The facilitator states the goals of the activity an asks participants to imagine themselves in unpleasant assertive situations, to imagine in detail in order to make them seem as realistic as possible, and to face and experience their uncomfortable feelings fully.
  2. As the participants feel increasingly anxious, hostile, depressed, embarrassed, etc., the facilitator tells them to force aside their strong negative emotions until only mild negative feelings are being experienced. The facilitator continues to remind participants to force aside or reduce their strong feelings.
  3. When the participants have reduced their feelings, the facilitator to change reconstruct the statements they repeated to themselves in order to reduce their strong emotions.
  4. The facilitator leads a discussions of how participants used their thoughts to change feelings and how this technique can be applied in assertive situations.
  1. The experience can be based on "shoulds" rather than on "ogres"
Rights Thinking Works Sheet
  1. Is this is realistic belief ? What evidence do I have that this may or may not happen ?
  2. Even if this is a realistic belief, is as terrible an occurrence as I am imagining ? How would I handle this if it happened ?
  3. How would I feel if I were the other person ? What do other people think would be the logical consequences of being assertive in this situation.
  4. What challenges might I use to counter this fear, for example :
    Fear : She won’t like me any more.
    Challenges :
    You don’t have to be liked by everyone; if she doesn’t like you just because you say this particular thing, is this the kind of friend you want to have ? I have said similar things to her in the past, and she has accepted them well.

2000 Dennice is solely responsible for the opinions expressed 


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