More Americans are dealing with mental health issues, but there are many ways to get relief. Our blog series continues with a look at workbooks in managing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Activities to Relieve: Workbooks and Mental Health.
Activities to Relieve: Workbooks and Mental Health.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

Advances in psychological research have provided an increasing array of options for treating mental health issues. Beyond therapy, these include many complementary tools, which can be used by patients on their own. These relief activities help us to cope through the expression of emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.

Relief activities are considered self-help resources in the mental health profession. Though the patient may receive guidance from a therapist, these activities can be practiced by the individual as a form of homework, outside of psychotherapy sessions.

These activities have many purposes. The main goal is to relieve the underlying mental health issue or its symptoms. These activities also allow the psychologist to measure the patient’s progress. Along with that, relief activities are a great way to make the patient more aware of their symptoms. There are many activities to choose from.

Activities to relieve are exercises that involve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral resources.
Activities to relieve are exercises that involve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral resources.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

Each article in this blog series will focus on a different mental health relief activity. Last time, we looked at adult coloring. Today, we will discuss the increasingly common use of workbooks in psychotherapy.

Workbooks are mostly used in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is because they involve cognitive processes. As with reading and writing, this requires us to think. Worksheets in CBT involve writing about ourselves or filling out questionnaires.

Workbooks (or worksheets) involve cognitive processes like reading and writing.
Workbooks (or worksheets) involve cognitive processes like reading and writing.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

The worksheet or workbook will vary depending on its purpose. For example, if you are just beginning the therapeutic process, it is quite common for your therapist to send you worksheets to complete. This activity will help the patient to understand the dysfunctionalities in their cognitive processes. In this sense, worksheets are a cognitive-behavioral record that may be helpful in identifying when and how certain thought patterns trigger specific reactions.

Other workbooks task the patient with memorizing affirmations. There are also workbooks that focus on our habits, and these are helpful for those suffering from addiction or with obsessive thoughts and behaviors. Other relief activities include questionnaires and journals, which are both commonly used for treating anxiety and stress. Specific activities are chosen based on the training and background of the therapist, as well as the patient’s diagnosis, and the goal of the treatment.


So, now we can add workbooks to our mental health toolkit. Workbooks are great resources for releasing some of what is trapped inside of us. In the process, workbooks help us learn more about ourselves.

As a psychologist, I commonly use workbooks and worksheets as self-help tools with my patients. This allows them to continue their therapeutic practice and to gain insight outside of our sessions together. Check back soon—there are many more relief activities to discover!