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#37: Level Up Your Skill Use

This episode is in response to a listener question about combining DBT skill use for difficult situations. We thought it was a great question to tackle in an episode.

As your knowledge of DBT skills increases, you will likely find that using several different skills is often the most effective way to respond to challenging life situations. Another way of thinking about this is layering skills – using skills to reduce distress first and then using skills to solve problems or change situations. Marielle and Ed discuss the following scenarios where layered skill use can be helpful:

  • You’re in an intense conflict with someone important to you.
  • You’ve experienced loss and sadness is overtaking you. 
  • You have a strong desire to avoid doing something that needs to get done.

Show Highlights

  • STOP skill is a good place to start as a way to pause
  • Once you use STOP, the next step might be TIP skills
  • TIP is a great way to slow down your body’s system so you can think more clearly
  • Distraction skills, such as Wise Mind ACCEPTS are useful when you find yourself ruminating
  • Distraction works because it gives your mind a break from the thing that is upsetting you
  • Moving away from the urgency to figure out problems immediately 
  • Making a plan ahead of time with significant others about how to calm down during moments of conflict
  • Addressing the shame that may come when you don’t use skills
  • The importance of patience and self-validation when working towards behavior change. 
  • Recognizing that there can be more than one truth in a situation
  • Retreating is the natural response to loss
  • Doing Opposite Action all the way
  • Toggling between acceptance skills and change skills
  • Asking yourself what you’re scared of
  • Using self-encouragement
  • Self-soothing as you start a challenging task
  • Thinking about how to reward yourself at the end of doing the hard thing

DBT Skills Discussed

Ask us a Question

We’d love to hear from you! Where are you getting stuck with your skills application? Ask us a question for the chance to have it answered on the podcast. Submit your question here. 

Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment.