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Mental Filter Cognitive Distortion Handout

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A Mental Filter is a cognitive distortion where an individual selectively focuses on negative aspects of a situation while “filtering out” any positive elements. Research shows that this is linked to psychological distress, which interferes with a client’s ability to function. Mindfulness or the awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings can be effective in reducing mental filters.

The Mental Filter Cognitive Distortion handout provides guidance on recognizing mental filtering. It shows clients how mental filtering might manifest, such as focusing on a tiny detail without considering all aspects of a situation. At the bottom of the handout, clients will learn tips for challenging this thought pattern.

Recognizing mental filtering with the help of this handout allows kids and teens to develop a more balanced view of themselves. Encourage them to choose at least one tip from the handout and turn it into a daily challenge. For example, if they select the tip “Question your thinking,” tell them to set a reminder to practice it and share their realizations with you or their mental health provider.

For more helpful information on cognitive distortions and common CBT concepts, check out our 19-page CBT Handouts Bundle.

*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. Rnic, K., A. Dozois, D. J., & Martin, R. A. (2016). Cognitive Distortions, Humor Styles, and Depression. Europe's Journal of Psychology, 12(3), 348-362. https://doi.org/10.5964/ejop.v12i3.1118
  2. Keng, S., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: A review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1041–1056. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.04.006
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  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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