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DBTalk: Module 2: Distress Tolerance — Part 2

Yael Dorfman and Bashi Levine, LPC, ACT

Because crises are common in the beginning of the DBT course, it’s best to have a lot of weapons in our arsenals, so we’re armed and ready

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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odule 2: Distress Tolerance, Part 2

Concepts taught: Crisis Survival Skills

Bashi (group facilitator)

The girls have been reporting success — through trial and error — with their current crisis survival skills, and they’re so proud (and so am I!). Because crises are common in the beginning of the DBT course, it’s best to have a lot of weapons in our arsenals, so we learn a lot of crisis survival skills to keep everyone armed and ready.

If one skill doesn’t work, try another one! Not every skill works for every person or in every situation. I presented the group with three more skills to add to their toolboxes. After handing them worksheets for each skill, I tell them to highlight the strategies they’re willing to try. They don’t have to pick one from each category, just tactics that work best for them and are accessible and practical.

Get your highlighters out — just like Shalva, Malki, Tamar, and the others — and get ready to find your new crisis survival skills!

Distract with Wise Mind ACCEPTS

Distract yourself momentarily and deal with the issue at a later, calmer time. This skill set is effective for cooling down in the short term.

Activities: Do something distracting. Try: Sudoku, adult coloring books, writing, cleaning, music, exercise… anything that will help remove your mind from the situation.

Contributing: Do something nice for someone — not necessarily the person you’re upset at. Try: baking cookies for a friend, raising money for a good cause.

Comparisons: Compare yourself to those less fortunate. This doesn’t work for everyone and can be invalidating! You can also compare yourself to yourself in the past.

Emotions: Create different emotions. Listening to depressing music when you’re feeling down doesn’t reduce stress, though it can be validating; find an activity that evokes positive emotions, like listening to upbeat music or reading a funny book.

Pushing away: Temporarily push the painful situation out of your mind. This is a short-term solution and should only be used as a last resort; in a crisis, facing pain may not be helpful and may affect your daily living.

Thoughts: Replace your thoughts. Focus on something else, like naming colors on a poster or counting ceiling tiles. Participate mindfully.

Sensations: Intensify other sensations. Eat something spicy, blast music, take a hot or cold shower, do crunches, squeeze a stress ball; these sensations will distract you from your emotional state.

Self-Soothe with Six Senses

Each of the five senses — vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch — can be used to soothe yourself; the “sixth sense” is the kinesthetic sense, aka movement. Figure out what soothes you: beautiful images, scented candles or lotions, cookies or chocolate (eat mindfully, don’t overindulge!), a fuzzy sweatshirt or furry pet, stretching, exercise, soft music, herbal tea…

The purpose of these skills is to self-soothe by doing something nice for yourself. It may be hard to treat yourself in the beginning, especially if you feel like you don’t deserve it, but it will get easier. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 675)

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