ABC PLEASE skills in DBT

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What are the ABC PLEASE skills in DBT?

The ABC PLEASE skills are designed to reduce vulnerability factors that increase one’s susceptibility to intense emotions. Whether you are struggling with stress, anxiety, or mood swings, integrating ABC PLEASE skills into your daily routine can make a significant positive impact on your emotional well-being.


Overview of DBT and ABC PLEASE skills

DBT is a therapeutic approach that focuses on teaching individuals valuable strategies to regulate emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and enhance self-awareness. ABC PLEASE is a part of the DBT skill set – the acronyms stand for:

Accumulate positive emotions
Build mastery
Cope ahead

treat PhysicaL illness
balanced Eating
Avoid mood-altering substances
balanced Sleep
proper Exercise

These skills are intended to provide individuals with practical tools to address distress and cultivate emotional resilience. By practicing ABC PLEASE skills, individuals can develop healthier coping mechanisms and lead a more fulfilling and balanced life.

Accumulate Positive Emotions

Why is accumulating positive emotions important in DBT?

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), accumulating positive emotions plays a crucial role in cultivating emotional well-being and resilience. It helps individuals improve their overall satisfaction with life and effectively manage difficult emotions. It is important to work to build positive emotions short-term and long-term.

Practical strategies to accumulate positive emotions

  • Practice Mindfulness: Engage in activities that bring you joy and fully immerse yourself in the present moment.
  • Cultivate Gratitude: Take time to appreciate the positive aspects of your life and express gratitude for them.
  • Engage in Pleasurable Activities: Make a list of activities that bring you happiness and make an effort to incorporate them into your daily routine.
  • Connect with Supportive People: Surround yourself with positive and supportive individuals who uplift your spirit.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Live according to your values: Take inventory of your values and use them to create practical goals and action plans that will foster a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

By actively accumulating positive emotions, individuals can enhance their emotional well-being, build resilience, and better navigate the challenges that come their way. Practice these strategies consistently to experience the benefits they offer in your own life.

Build Mastery

In DBT, building mastery refers to actively engaging in activities or tasks that help individuals develop and sharpen their skills. It can be anything from learning a new hobby, pursuing professional development, or even mastering everyday tasks.

The goal is to gain a sense of accomplishment, boost self-esteem, and increase feelings of competence. Building mastery can be particularly beneficial for individuals struggling with low self-esteem or a lack of direction in life.

Tips for building mastery in various areas of life

  • Set attainable goals: Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable steps to help track progress and stay motivated.
  • Try new things: Step out of your comfort zone and explore new activities or hobbies that spark your interest. It can be as simple as learning a musical instrument or trying a new sport.
  • Practice self-compassion: Be patient and kind to yourself as you navigate the learning process. Mistakes and setbacks are opportunities for growth, so embrace them as part of the journey.
  • Seek support: Connect with others who share similar interests or goals, join groups or classes, or consider working with a therapist or coach who can provide guidance and support.

Remember, building mastery is a lifelong journey, and it’s important to celebrate achievements along the way. The key is to try something that is challenging, but not impossible to accomplish. 

Please contact us today to find out more about both DBT groups and individual therapy.

Coping Ahead

Coping ahead is a skill that helps individuals prepare for challenging situations, anticipate potential obstacles, and develop effective strategies for managing their emotions and actions. By envisioning different scenarios and planning ahead, individuals can increase their confidence in handling difficult situations and minimize emotional distress.

Steps to effectively cope ahead in challenging situations

  • Identify trigger situations: Recognize the specific situations or events that tend to elicit strong emotional responses.
  • Visualize potential challenges: Envision various scenarios and the obstacles you might encounter in those situations.
  • Develop coping strategies: Brainstorm and plan effective strategies to manage your emotions, reduce stress, and navigate the challenges.
  • Practice coping skills: Regularly practice the coping strategies to build confidence and familiarity with implementing them in real-life situations.


To recap, PLEASE is an acronym that stands for treat PhysicaL Illness, Eating balanced and regular meals, Avoiding mood-altering substances, balance Sleep, and Exercise. These skills emphasize the importance of self-care in promoting emotional well-being and stability.

Tips for Implementing the PLEASE Technique in Daily Life

  • Treat illness: See your medical provider regularly, make sure you take care of whatever ails you and take medications as prescribed.
  • Limit Substance Use: Excessive alcohol or drug consumption can negatively impact your emotional state. Practice moderation and seek healthier coping strategies.
  • Eat Regularly: Skipping meals or following restrictive diets can affect your mood and energy levels. Maintain a consistent and balanced eating pattern.
  • Avoid Sleep Deprivation: Lack of sleep can lead to heightened emotions and decreased coping abilities. Prioritize sleep and establish a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Get enough and the right exercise: There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all” exercise, only you know what works best for you. That said, make sure you do actually exercise, it really helps..

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

  • Lack of Time: Incorporate self-care activities into your daily routine, even if it’s just for a few minutes, starting small is a start! Break larger tasks into smaller manageable chunks.
  • Resistance to Change: Start small and gradually implement changes. Remind yourself of the benefits and track your progress to stay motivated.
  • External Pressures: Set boundaries and communicate your needs to others. Seek support from loved ones or a therapist to navigate challenging situations.
  • Self-Sabotaging Behaviors: Identify triggers and develop alternative coping strategies. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that change takes time.

Benefits of practicing PLEASE 

  • Improved mood: Engaging in activities that promote mastery and pleasure can boost your mood and increase feelings of happiness and fulfillment.
  • Enhanced self-confidence: Successfully completing activities that challenge you can help build self-confidence and belief in your abilities.
  • Reduced stress: Taking time for yourself and engaging in enjoyable activities can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation.

Tips for incorporating PLEASE into your routine

  • Make a list: Create a list of activities that bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment. Include a mix of activities that challenge you and activities that you simply enjoy.
  • Schedule regular time: Set aside dedicated time each day or week for engaging in these activities. Treat them as important appointments that cannot be missed.
  • Stay committed: Even when you’re feeling low or unmotivated, try to stick to your scheduled activities. Pushing through these moments can lead to positive outcomes.

By implementing ABC PLEASE into your everyday life, you can prioritize self-care, boost your mood, and enhance your overall well-being. Remember, it’s essential to engage in activities that bring you a sense of mastery and pleasure.

Read more about DBT at The Resource Group here.