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What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome refers to a consistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. Although not recognized as a diagnosis, imposter syndrome is a common condition, particularly in new work roles or relationships. If unaddressed, the condition can lead to depression, low self-esteem, social isolation, and missed opportunities.

The What is Imposter Syndrome? info sheet provides a brief, easy-to-understand overview of the traits, consequences, risk factors, and key facts associated with the condition. Real-life examples offer additional insight into the experience of having imposter syndrome.

Use this handout to introduce clients and their families to imposter syndrome and its defining characteristics. This can serve as a prompt for discussing clients’ experience of the condition and its impact on them.

Be sure to evaluate whether external factors such as discrimination or an unsupportive workplace are playing a role, as these can warrant a different approach compared to cases in which clients’ self-defeating thoughts and behaviors are the main culprit.

For related resources, see our Self-Esteem Journal, Best Possible Self and Challenging Negative Thoughts worksheets.

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