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Catastrophizing Cognitive Distortion (PDF)

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Catastrophizing is a negative thinking pattern where clients believe that the worst possible outcome will happen. They tend to fixate on worst-case scenarios and can even convince themselves that they are likely to occur. Findings from a study suggest that catastrophizing may be a risk factor for depression in younger children.

The Catastrophizing Cognitive Distortion handout can be used as a self-help tool or included in therapy to address this cognitive distortion. It begins by defining it and then provides examples for clients to recognize similar thoughts in their lives. Finally, clients learn practical tips for challenging a catastrophic thought, such as focusing on best-case scenarios.

Knowing that catastrophizing is experienced by many people can help kids and teens feel less alone in their struggles while empowering them to use coping strategies. After using the handout, parents and their children can practice role-playing by introducing scenarios where they have the opportunity to respond more effectively. 

This handout is included in our 19-page CBT Handouts Bundle, which provides psychoeducation on a variety of cognitive distortions as well as helpful tips to support CBT treatment.

*This item is an instant digital download. A link to download your files will be emailed to you once payment is confirmed.

Want more resources like this? Check out our full catalog of CBT worksheets and handouts.

References:

  1. Burns, J. W., Day, M. A., & Thorn, B. E. (2011). Is reduction in pain catastrophizing a therapeutic mechanism specific to cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic pain? Translational Behavioral Medicine, 2(1), 22–29. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-011-0086-3
  2. Noel, V., Francis, S. E., Williams-Outerbridge, K., & Fung, S. (2011). Catastrophizing as a predictor of depressive and anxious symptoms in children. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36(4), 311–320. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-011-9370-2
  3. Petrini, L., & Arendt-Nielsen, L. (2020). Understanding pain catastrophizing: putting pieces together. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.603420
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  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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