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Overgeneralization Cognitive Distortion (PDF)

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Overgeneralization is a type of cognitive distortion in which clients draw broad conclusions based on one stressful experience, and then apply those conclusions to similar situations. According to research, clients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience overgeneralization, which can interfere with their daily lives. For instance, overgeneralization leads them to avoid potentially threatening events or people.

The Overgeneralization Cognitive Distortion handout explains what overgeneralization is and provides examples of overgeneralized thoughts, such as “I always make mistakes” and “Everyone is smarter than me.” As clients read the handout, they’ll learn to stop this thought pattern using tips like questioning their thoughts and committing to self-improvement.

Overcoming this thought pattern allows kids and teens to cope more effectively with setbacks and make more rational decisions. They may use our Changing Negative Thoughts to Positive Thoughts Worksheet along with this handout so they can practice reframing their thoughts as a form of homework.

This handout can be found in our 19-page CBT Handouts Bundle, which describes common CBT concepts and can be used for self-help or as a supplement to 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.


  1. Dunsmoor JE, Paz R. Fear generalization and anxiety: Behavioral and neural mechanisms. Biol Psychiatry. 2015;78(5):336-43. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.04.010
  2. American Psychological Association. “What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?” American Psychological Association, 2017, www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral.
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  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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