DBT 101: ABC Please

Our journey through the Emotion Regulation Module of DBT continues as we travel on to “ABC PLEASE.” This skill gives us tangible tools and skills that can be used to increase our own personal and emotional resilience. If this sounds similar to the principles behind PLEASE MASTER, you’re right! For some clinicians, this skill has replaced PLEASE MASTER and is seen as the more updated approach, and for others, they are simply sister tools. When we increase our emotional resiliency, we are better able to bounce back from small stressors or large roadblocks. If you are a visual person, picture this idea of resilience and prevention like a Bobo Doll toy (remember those dolls that behave like punching bags from way back in childhood?)  If our Bobo Doll is filled with air, powerful in its stance, a hit to the chest will only cause a small ripple. The doll will re-emerge and restore itself to its baseline upright position rapidly and safely. If our doll is devoid of much-needed air and strength, one small hit could cause a large shockwave, taking much longer to return to baseline. Let’s explore ABC PLEASE and add one more valuable and accessible tool to our Emotion Regulation tool belt.

As you may have guessed, ABC PLEASE is another acronym central to DBT!

A: Accumulating Positive Experiences

ABC PLEASE teaches us that the more positive experiences we can accumulate, the more likely we will be able to tolerate a setback. If we set attainable short and long-term goals, we will continually be arriving at success check-points, filling our “Bobo Doll” with air & positivity. And if we encounter a negative experience, it will have less of an effect on us. We have already logged and stored many more positive experiences that outweigh the negative!

B: Build Mastery

Similarly to PLEASE MASTER, this skill tells us to keep working on ourselves! Through the process of building mastery, we continue to chip away at developing a new skill or mastering a hobby. The confidence and joy that is developed as we achieve success are paramount to filling ourselves up with strength and resilience.

C: Cope Ahead

More often than not, we can predict when an upcoming situation will make us feel uncomfortable, sad, anxious, etc. before it occurs.  Coping ahead teaches us to identify skills and tools we can use to manage our emotions before they arise. For example, a teenage student with test-taking anxiety may prepare by studying, attending a study group, visiting teacher office hours or attending their exam with a fidget toy to reduce test-taking anxiety on the day of the exam. An adult with social anxiety may role-play conversation starters with a friend before attending a social gathering or identify relaxation methods and practice deep breathing in advance.

Please: Treating physical illness, Balanced eating, Avoiding mood-altering drugs (non-prescribed), Balanced sleep, Exercise. “Please,” tells us to take care of our physical wellbeing. When we care for our bodies we are more likely to experience life in a positive way and are less susceptible to negativity.

When we begin to use this skill, we find ourselves more willing and able to incorporate activities that we enjoy in our daily life, increase our positive experiences and fill ourselves up with strength.  Our newfound resilience will assist us in preparing for stressors that lie ahead and better tolerating “emotional punches” and unexpected situations as they present themselves. As we move through Emotion Regulation, we hope you have been taking note of the skills that may work for you and incorporating activity and mastery into your daily lives! Check back next week for our final Emotion Regulation Tool—Opposite Action!



Sunrise Residential Treatment Center. (2018, January 16). Take Control of Your Emotions Using These 5 Skills. Retrieved from https://www.sunrisertc.com/dbt-emotion-regulation-skills/#opposite-action just FYI!