Most Helpful DBT Skills

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), the Emotion Regulation module’s main points are: learning about emotions, changing emotional responses, and finding ways to reduce vulnerabilities to Emotion Mind. Learning and practicing these skills help support emotion management, bring awareness to vulnerabilities, and encourage us to accumulate positive emotions and experiences to build a life worth living.

During mental health advocate and author Stacy Pershall’s most recent presentation at OPI and our OPI Intensive, she shared that she finds Emotion Regulation to be the most impactful module that she uses daily. According to Stacy, “You can’t be mindful if you can’t regulate your emotions. You can’t tolerate distress if you can’t regulate your emotions. You can’t have meaningful relationships if you can’t regulate your emotions. It all comes from that.”

The two skills that she uses on a daily basis are Check the Facts and Opposite to Emotion Action. These skills are really helpful in the moment and can help facilitate change. Here is a breakdown of the skills:

Check the Facts is about examining a situation to see if your emotional reaction fits the facts. We tend to react to our thoughts and assumptions of an event rather than the actual facts of the event. Prior to jumping to conclusions, there are six questions you can ask yourself to check the facts:

  1. What is the emotion I want to change?
  2. What is the event prompting my emotion?
  3. What are my interpretations, thoughts, and assumptions about the event?
  4. Am I assuming a threat?
  5. What’s the catastrophe?
  6. Does my emotion and/or its intensity fit the actual facts?

Sometimes knowing the facts can change how you feel about an event. Now, if checking the facts does not help to reduce the unwanted emotional response, a useful skill that Stacy said that she uses all of the time is Opposite Action.

Opposite Action is acting opposite to emotional urges. This skill works when emotions do not fit the facts or when acting on emotions is not effective.

To do Opposite Action, follow these seven steps:

  1. Identify and name the emotion you want to change.
  2. Check the facts to see if your emotion is justified.
  3. Identify and describe your action urges.
  4. Ask Wise Mind: Is expression or acting on this emotion effective in this situation?
  5. Identify the opposite action to your action urges.
  6. Act opposite all the way to your action urges.
  7. Repeat acting opposite to your action urges until your emotion changes.

Check out the video of Stacy explaining…..(jump to the 20-second mark if the opening slide takes too long…)




Are these also your most helpful DBT Skills? If not, which do you turn to the most to stay skillful?


At OPI Intensive for young adults with Borderline Personality Disorder and BPD traits, we intensively integrate DBT as part of your treatment plan. We offer compassionate, clinically sophisticated intensive residential help, including genetic testing to determine the best course for medications, if needed. Rather than a sterile, hospital-like environment, we offer beautiful accommodations in luxury apartments just outside of Los Angeles.  At OPI Intensive, we treat the individual, not the diagnosis.  Our clinical team is made up of a diverse community of passionate, highly skilled individuals working together with you to help you find your joy and express it.   For more information on OPI Intensive residential programs and our measures to help young adults with Borderline Personality Disorder, call us at 818-906-4884 or click HERE to submit an online form. We’ll be in touch promptly.