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Labeling Cognitive Distortion (PDF)

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Labeling is a cognitive distortion that involves classifying oneself or others negatively after a stressful experience. It can influence a person’s behavior by leading them to act in ways that are consistent with their belief or the label that has been assigned to them. Research has shown that labeling is associated with depression and anxiety.

The Labeling Cognitive Distortion handout explains how this thought pattern can impact a client’s outlook in life and provides specific examples. For instance, clients who are stuck in this thought pattern might label themselves as “lazy” or a “bad friend.” Below the examples are strategies they can follow each day to overcome labeling.

Challenging and reframing negative labels with this handout can help kids and teens perceive themselves more positively and feel confident. As a parent or caregiver, offer continued support by checking in with your child to see how they’re applying what they’ve learned from the handout.

Check out our 19-page CBT Handouts Bundle for more helpful information on cognitive distortions and common CBT concepts.

*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.


  1. Blake, E., Dobson, K. S., Sheptycki, A. R., & Drapeau, M. (2016). The relationship between depression severity and cognitive errors. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 70, 203-221. DOI: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.2016.70.2.203.
  2. Kuru, E., Safak, Y., Özdemir, İ., Tulacı, R. G., Özdel, K., Özkula, N. G., & Örsel, S. (2018). Cognitive distortions in patients with social anxiety disorder: Comparison of a clinical group and healthy controls. The European Journal of Psychiatry, 32, 97-104. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpsy.2017.08.004.
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