DBT Video Text: Crisis Review 2

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These are scripts from videos by Dialectical Behavioral Therapy creator Marsha Linehan describing DBT skills. You can purchase the videos from Behavioral Tech LLC.

All right. So we’ve gotten through all the skills. Now, let’s review. So what were the first skills we went over? They’re the ‘Improve‘ skills and you can remember them – you just have to remember the word ‘improve’. 

So start with I. I, imagery. Imagery is when, in a crisis, you create a place inside yourself, sort of a place inside your mind’s eye, that you can go to and that you will feel safe in. So that’s I, imagery. You can also in imagery remember…just imagine you’re somewhere else, like in Hawaii.

DBT Crisis Survival: a green, mountainous island seen from an aerial perspective

M, what’s that skill? Meaning. The idea here is to see if there’s some way that you can create meaning or purpose. Can you find something inside the suffering that you’re in that has some sort of value. That makes the crisis a lot easier to get through, if you can do that.

What’s the next letter? P, prayer. If you’re a person who prays, now is the time to do it. A crisis is definitely the time to pray. Well what kind of prayer? Most of us pray, ‘Get me out!  Get me out!’ That’s…that’s ok so alright so maybe you’re going to do that. However, a prayer that might be more helpful getting through a crisis is going to be an acceptance prayer. It’s going to be an ‘I accept…’ sort of prayer. ‘You’re will be done.’

What’s the next letter? R. R is for relaxation. Relaxation is a great way to cope when you’re in a crisis, mainly because it changes your body. When you change your body, from very tense to relaxed, you can often survive a whole lot better. So when you relax you might just want to go through your body, find each part, see if any of parts of your body are tense. You can either say the word ‘relax’ let them go. Or you could tense them first and then relax. So that’s R.

What’s the next one. O. What’s O stand for? My very favorite skill – one thing in the moment. This is a fabulous skill. Do you remember it? This is when, in a crisis, it feels overwhelming, what are you going to do? You throw yourself into the moment. The key thing to remember is that if you’re in a crisis, generally the crisis is bad enough. You just want to suffer the crisis. One thing in a moment is the way to set it up so that you suffer the moment but not every past crisis you have ever had. And you don’t suffer everything in the future. So how do you do that? Do you remember? You throw yourself into an activity. Just one thing. 

What’s the next letter?  V, vacation. This is the one where you just take a vacation. Now what’s the secret of vacations? Do you remember, what is the secret? You weren’t thinking of taking a long vacation were you? No. That’s not going to help. That might take it…make it worse. So vacation is short, brief. Kind of short and sweet. 

We just have the last letter, and what’s the last letter? You got it. E for encouragement. Encouragement is when you encourage yourself. It’s when you talk to yourself. You’re sweet to yourself. You cheerlead yourself. You say, ‘Hey, I can do it. I can make it. I’ll get through.’  That’s encouragement.

DBT Crisis Survival: handmade posters read 'never ever give up' and 'stay strong'

Alright, so those are the improve skills.

Now, let’s go on to the Pros & Cons. Pros & Cons, you’re going to think about the advantages and disadvantages of doing things. So the Pros, which is the advantage and the Cons which is the disadvantages. Now remember there are three steps in Pros & Cons. What are they?

The first thing you want to do is figure out what’s the behavior that you’ve got a really strong urge to do. In other words, what behavior are you trying to make a decision about. Are you trying to figure out ‘shall I do it or not.’ So figure out that behavior. 

And the second thing you do is you get a piece of paper and you write down the advantages and the disadvantages of the behavior.

The third step is that you review your Pros & Cons. You read it over and you think through, ‘What’s the weight of the argument? My Pros & Cons say do what?’ And based on your Pros & Cons, most of the time, you’re going to know what’s the wise thing to do. Alright, so then, of course, there’s the fourth step, you have to do the wise thing. So that’s Pros & Cons.

DBT Crisis Survival: A hand prepares to write on a blank notepad

Now let me just give you a little hint. You’re a lot better off if you write out the Pros & Cons for behaviors that you sometimes do that make your life go worse. If you write out those Pros & Cons when you’re not in a crisis, ’cause the facts of the matter are when you’re in a crisis it is unbelievable difficult to write out Pros & Cons.

Why is it so difficult? Well, your urge sometimes to do something, to run away or escape or do something destructive, well, it’s so high that if you write out the Pros & Cons they’re going to convince you to do it. The only reason they’re convincing you to do it is you want to do it. So, write your list out some other time. Now, if you do that, you can’t lose the list. So you’ve got to put it someplace where you remember where you put it. 

So do you Pros & Cons, keep your list somewhere. If you get in a crisis, you’re overcome with an urge, pull your list out, read it over, do the wise thing.

Alright. So those are the two sets of skills: Improve the Moment and Pros &Cons. Now, one final thing that’s really helpful to remember. And that’s the following: Crisis survival skills work if you survive. Lots of times people say, ‘Oh, I don’t feel better. I wanted to feel better.  I’m not happy. These skills don’t work.’ Or they’ll say, ‘Well, the problem’s not solved.  The skills don’t work. Well I’ve still got the crisis. These skills don’t work.’ You want to remember, these are not skills for solving problems. And they’re not skills for improving your life. And they’re not skills for making changes in yourself. And they are definitely not the skills that right this second are going to make you a lot happier than you already are. What these skills are for is to help you get through the moment without making it worse. So ask yourself, ‘Did I make it worse?’ If you say no, the skills worked.

So, it’s the end of this program. The really bad new is I have to say goodbye. The good news, well, there is another program that has a whole other set of Crisis Survival Skills. 

This text is the unofficial transcript of Behavioral Tech, LLC.
Chaos to Freedom Skills Training Video. Posted with permission from Behavioral Tech.
Transcribed by Sylvia James, May 15, 2006