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Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty

Guilt is a common post-traumatic reaction and is often the result of cognitive bias. This CBT worksheet explores common cognitive biases that have been associated with post-traumatic guilt.

Survivors of trauma often feel inappropriate guilt or shame about things they did or did not do. The psychologist Edward Kubany and colleagues have noted that survivors of trauma often distort their roles in their trauma in characteristic ways, with the result that they feel inappropriate guilt. They identify four kinds of distortion:

  • Exaggerating the degree to which they were responsible for causing trauma-related outcomes
  • Believing that their actions were less justified than an unbiased observer would believe to be the case
  • Concluding that they were guilty of wrongdoing even if their actions were consistent with their values
  • Concluding that they ‘knew’ an event would happen before it was possible to ‘know’

Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty is a checklist detailing the cognitive distortions which result in post-traumatic guilt. It can be used to identify troublesome cognitions help by traumatized clients, or to guide a conversation around post-traumatic guilt.

Before I Blame Myself And Feel Guilty is a checklist detailing the cognitive distortions which result in post-traumatic guilt. It can be used to identify troublesome cognitions help by traumatized clients, or to guide a conversation around post-traumatic guilt.

  • Kubany, E. S., & Manke, F. P. (1995). Cognitive therapy for trauma-related guilt: Conceptual bases and treatment outlines. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 2, 23-61.
  • Kubany, E. S., & Ralston, T. C. (1998). Cognitive therapy for trauma-related guilt. Cognitive-behavioral therapies for trauma, 124-161.
  • Kubany, E. S., & Ralston, T. (2008). Treating PTSD in battered women: A step-by-step manual for therapists and counselors. New Harbinger Publications.

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