This book is based upon the concept that our depressed moods are caused by incorrect thoughts or cognitions. Burns suggests that we learn these misconceptions and then practice and reinforce them, and that the way to relieve depression is to challenge these misconceptions and to practice not believing in them.
The book contains several suggestions on how to do this. The one explained in the most detail involves keeping a log of our faulty thoughts - thoughts such as "I will never succeed" - then categorizing each thought as one of a series of common cognitive misconceptions and writing a rational response to it. With practice, this reinforces the antithesis of original self-defeating thoughts.
The book contains other suggestions as well, such as: making an hour by hour schedule in order to keep busy and to understand where time is going; keeping count of negative thoughts throughout the day; and finally categorizing daily activities based on how much one actually enjoy thems.
This report prepared by Melissa Rachiele