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DBT’s Guide to Self-Soothing

Julia Harris

Beautiful young woman at home drinking coffee reading a bookDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a specialized type of cognitive therapy that focuses on helping individuals regulate their emotions, tolerate painful emotions, and maintain relationships with others. One of the skills DBT focuses on is self-soothing. Self-soothing is your ability to cope through a situation without the help of others. It’s helpful and important to be able to self-regulate and soothe your own emotions related to a stressful or irritating event.  You can think of self-soothing skills like having your own tool kit to get through distressing situations that may trigger feelings of anxiety, depression, loneliness, sadness, boredom, stress, or anger. There are many ways you can self-soothe, but let’s talk about soothing with the 5 senses to get your started. You can even try putting together a self-soothing kit to use when you need it!

Taste – Try getting a cup of tea or a piece of your favorite candy. Notice what the tea or candy tastes like.

Touch – Wrap yourself in a warm, soft, fuzzy blanket or sweater. What does the blanket feel like on your body? What does the texture feel like? Is it soft on your skin?

Sight – Pick a picture of a happy memory. Observe the photo and notice what feelings or thought occur. Describe the memory to yourself or continuing observing the photo.

Hearing – Put on your favorite song by using your phone. Listen to the words or the instrumental parts of the song. Notice any feelings, thoughts, or physical sensations that come up.

Smell – Use your favorite perfume, cologne, scented lotion, or essential oil. Smell the scent and notice what thoughts or feelings come up for you. You might remember a happy memory or you might feel relaxed.

If you or a loved one are struggling to regulate your emotions, handle painful emotions, or maintain relationships please consider calling The Summit Counseling Center to schedule an appointment with an Intensively Trained DBT Therapist or get information about our DBT Skills Groups by calling 678-893-5300 or contacting us via our website www.summitcounseling.org.

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