DBT – ABC PLEASE Skills of Emotion Regulation (Part One)

Updated March 2022





DBT Skills - House of happiness


Think of yourself as a builder.


The DBT skills are your building blocks for your house of emotional resilience.


Foundation: Mindfulness skills are the foundation


Mindfulness skills are the foundation of your House of Happiness. Consciously using Mindfulness skills in everyday life has many known evidence-based benefits, all supported by lots of recent research. The relaxation response created by habitual, daily mindfulness benefits your physiology and psychology – your mindbody.


First Floor: Positive Psychology Skills of Emotional Regulation: ABC PLEASE skills


The ABC PLEASE skills are the first floor in the House of Happiness. Training yourself to develop habits of joy and contentment will help stabilize the storm of agitated, painful emotion.


The benefits of consciously applying the positive psychology of the ABC PLEASE skills in your everyday life is also supported by alot of recent research.


Remember, Mindfulness skills are the solid foundation.


Emotional regulation skills are the first floor, complete with a smooth, strong, tiled floor and high impact doors and windows for weathering emotional hurricanes.


ABC is the nice stable, tiled first floor, solid and smooth, enabling emotional stability and resilience. PLEASE is the high impact window and doors, giving you the strength to stand in your own power.


How to weather the storms of high emotion?


Develop the solid ABC first floor.


A Accumulate Positive Emotions


  • Research shows positive events decrease the impact of negative events. Negative events are painful and the absence of positive events are painful.

  • And...you need to build up positive events in your life.

  • You need to create both short-term and long-term positive events as your first floor.

  • Short-term positive events are things that make you feel good in the now, and

  • Long-term positive events are things that create a lasting sense of happiness.


B Build Mastery


What a wonderful concept this is!


  • Consciously choose to do things that you are good at.

  • Are you good at gardening? Cooking? Creating a small side business? Crocheting? Volunteering?

  • Choose some things you are good at and then focus on doing them!

  • Walking your dog? Scrapbooking? Kayaking? Swimming? Gym work? Yoga?

  • Do it! Schedule it! Complete it!

  • Feeling competent helps chase those “I’m not good enough” blues away.


C Cope Ahead


  • Coping ahead means thinking ahead about situations that you are going into that may cause you distress, then

  • plan a coping strategy ahead of time.

  • Rehearse your strategy in your mind, or

  • Write out something you may want to say.

  • Research supports the finding that imaginal rehearsal is effective in building new skills.


The PLEASE aspect of ABC PLEASE is discussed in Part Two


Useful DBT Skills Training articles:


ABC Skills for Emotional Regulation (Part Two)


DBT Radical Acceptance


DBT STOP and TIP Skills: Life is Worth Living Even There is Pain


DBT Mindfulness WHAT Skills: Adult Coloring Books