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Key Takeaways:

  • The Check the Facts skill is an emotion regulation strategy that involves examining a situation objectively.
  • Checking the facts can improve interpersonal relationships by enhancing communication and help adolescents develop their problem-solving skills.
  • To check the facts, you must identify emotions and thoughts, father objective evidence, then evaluate and reframe thoughts.

When children and teens find themselves in emotionally intense situations, it can be difficult for them to see things objectively. Fortunately, the Check the Facts DBT skill can teach them to take a step back, gather information, and make better, more productive decisions.

Learn more about how the Check the Facts skill works and how your child can apply it to everyday situations.

What is Check the Facts DBT Skill?

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), the Check the Facts skill refers to how individuals interpret events that cause emotional reactions. It is an emotion regulation skill for managing emotions and reactions that encourages individuals to examine the situation objectively and without bias.

While the Check the Facts skill may not have a pinpoint origin, it represents many core DBT principles developed in the late 1980s [*]. For instance, it reflects the concept of mindfulness, as checking the facts requires a certain level of detachment from emotional reactions to make an objective evaluation of the situation.

Checking the facts also acknowledges the validity of a person’s emotions while presenting a more balanced perspective.

How Does Check the Facts DBT Skill Work?

The Check the Facts DBT skill entails six primary steps to help individuals regulate their emotions. Here’s how it works.

Identify the Emotion

First, individuals must identify the emotions they experience as a result of the event. Perhaps you feel angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, or sad.

Give these emotions a name. Identifying feelings can help individuals understand the physical and mental effects of such emotions.

Identify the Thought

Once you’ve pinpointed the emotion, identify the thought or belief triggering it. Consider what story you might be telling yourself about the situation.

Gather Objective Evidence

This particular step is where “checking the facts” occurs. Once you’ve identified the emotions and thoughts at hand, consider what evidence might support or disprove your initial thoughts.

Use your senses, such as sight, hearing, and touch, to seek concrete details, ignoring assumptions and interpretations.

Evaluate the Thought

Evaluate the thought by weighing the evidence you’ve gathered. Reflect on whether the evidence supports your interpretation or contradicts it. Then, ask yourself why this might be the case.

Reframe the Thought

If the evidence doesn’t substantiate your initial thought or proves that it is inaccurate, harmful, or unhelpful, reframe negative thoughts into positive ones. Doing so can help regulate your emotional response.

Help your child practice gathering information and analyzing the situation with our Check the Facts worksheet.

What is Check the Facts DBT Skill Used for?

Overall, the Check the Facts skill helps manage intense emotions and develops healthier coping mechanisms. It is an essential part of DBT for teens and children. Here are a few other reasons it may help you or your child:

  • Challenging negative thought patterns. Especially if you have low self-esteem or tend to be cynical, the Check the Facts skill can help challenge negative thought patterns and eliminate biases that distort your thinking. With this skill, you can identify these biases, challenging them with factual evidence and viewing the circumstances at hand more objectively.
  • Improving decision-making. Emotions can easily cloud your judgment, especially in the heat of the moment. Checking the facts allows you to make decisions based on evidence and not emotions. With practice, you can develop balanced and effective choices.
  • Reducing distressful reactions. Misinterpreting situations often leads to overreactions. Fortunately, checking the facts can prevent these unfortunate situations, as you can respond in calmer, more mindful ways.

What are the Benefits of Using Check the Facts DBT Skill?

Checking the facts can benefit parents, children, and individuals in many ways. Let’s take a closer look:

  • Better interpersonal relationships. Misunderstandings can fuel conflict in relationships, causing emotional damage. By checking the facts, you can avoid making assumptions about other people’s intentions and communicate with them more effectively [*].
  • Enhanced critical thinking. While it’s a hard fact of life, children will eventually learn that they won’t always be right. Checking the facts trains them to think critically and analyze information objectively instead of jumping to conclusions and unintentionally misleading others. This enhanced critical thinking can lead to academic resilience and engagement, improving the learning process [*].
  • Improved problem-solving. Good problem-solvers are more successful in academic and professional settings. Checking the facts strengthens these skills by teaching children to gather evidence and analyze it, helping them to develop more logical and methodical approaches to obstacles.
  • Stronger communication skills. Strong communicators are better leaders. Fact-checking fosters clearer communication by teaching individuals to base arguments on evidence–not emotions.

How to Use Check the Facts DBT Skill

Now that you understand the value of the Check the Facts skill, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into action. Here, we’ll discuss a specific scenario and how you can apply each step.

Identify the Emotion

Suppose your child invites a friend over for a movie night, but nobody arrives despite a well-articulated plan. Your child may feel frustrated or upset that their friend appeared to overlook the plan.

Allow your child to express themselves and refrain from making assumptions. Instead, say something like, “It seems like you’re upset. Are you feeling upset?”

Identify the Thought

Consider what your child is thinking in the moment. You can ask them up-front. They might respond with something like, “They must be mad at me for something and are purposely ignoring me,” or “They might not want to be friends with me anymore and decided not to come.”

Gather Objective Evidence

Gather the evidence. For example, here are some facts you might consider:

  • Your child texted their friend about movie night and they responded enthusiastically with a clear intention to go.
  • Your child’s friend hasn’t responded to their most recent text, but there is no explanation for why this might be the case.
  • You are unaware of any recent arguments or disagreements between your child and their friend. They have not experienced any problems at school and your child’s friend has explicit permission from their parents to attend movie night.

Evaluate the Thought

Evaluate the thought by asking your child if there is any evidence to support that their friend may be upset with them.

Reframe the Thought

Help your child reframe their negative thoughts. For instance, you might suggest “Maybe something unexpected came up. I’ll try calling their parents to find out what happened.”

Encourage them to remain calm until you learn more information about the situation.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the Check the Facts DBT skill is a powerful tool for managing emotions, and improving overall well-being. By learning to separate facts from interpretations, individuals can gain control of their emotional responses, make sound decisions, and build stronger relationships with others.

Whether struggling with intense emotions or wanting to improve your child’s critical thinking skills, there are many ways you can apply our DBT worksheets.


  1. Linehan, M. “The Course and Evolution of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.” The American Journal of Psychotherapy, 2018.
  2. Lenz A, Del Conte G, Callendar K, et al. “Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness as Mechanisms of Change for Treatment Outcomes Within a DBT Program for Adolescents.” Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation, 2016.
  3. Namaziandost E, Rezai A, Heydarnejad T, and Kruk M. “Emotion and cognition are two wings of the same bird: Insights into academic emotion regulation, critical thinking, self-efficacy beliefs, academic resilience, and academic engagement in Iranian EFL context.” Thinking Skills and Creativity, 2023.

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