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Personalization Cognitive Distortion (PDF)

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Personalization is a cognitive distortion that involves blaming oneself for negative outcomes even though they are beyond one’s control. This tendency to carry undue blame can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and diminished self-worth. Research suggests that self-blame as a maladaptive emotional regulation strategy is associated with anxiety and depression.

The Personalization Cognitive Distortion handout explains what this thought pattern entails and provides specific examples of thoughts clients might be having as a result. The final part of the handout lists 7 ways clients can deal with personalization, such as using positive self-talk and seeking professional help.

Using this handout helps kids and teens practice self-compassion by refraining from excessive self-criticism, especially in situations where they bear partial or no responsibility. If they need help with positive self-talk statements as one of the tips to overcome personalization, feel free to introduce our Self-Esteem Coping Statements worksheet.

The opposite of Personalization is Blaming, and both of these handouts can be found in our CBT Handouts Bundle, which includes 19 handouts on a variety of CBT topics.

*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. Tanzer, M., Salaminios, G., Morosan, L., Campbell, C., & Debbané, M. (2020). Self-Blame Mediates the Link between Childhood Neglect Experiences and Internalizing Symptoms in Low-Risk Adolescents. Journal of child & adolescent trauma, 14(1), 73–83. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-020-00307-z
  2. Zahn, R., Lythe, K. E., Gethin, J. A., Green, S. M., Deakin, B., Young, A. H., & Moll, J. (2015). The role of self-blame and worthlessness in the psychopathology of major depressive disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 186, 337–341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2015.08.001
  3. Grzybowski, J. A., & Brinthaupt, T. M. (2022). Trait Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, and Self-Talk: A Correlational Analysis of Young adults. Behavioral Sciences, 12(9), 300. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs12090300
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