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DBT Opposite Action (PDF)

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Opposite action is an emotion regulation strategy in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which involves following a set of steps to manage unwanted negative emotions. These emotions may include anger, sadness, fear, anxiety, and envy. For instance, instead of withdrawing further when feeling sad, one would recognize this emotion and intentionally engage in activities that are active and involve social interaction.

The DBT Opposite Action PDF handout serves as a basic guide for clients to use the skill when their emotions are doing them more harm than good. It lists different unwanted emotions, common behaviors taken, and opposite actions to counter these behaviors. Clients can also follow seven steps for taking an opposite action to change their emotions.

Using this handout increases self-awareness and helps break the cycle of maladaptive behavior. Encourage kids and teens to acknowledge the situation or emotion they’re having and fully participate in the present moment.

This handout can be paired with our DBT Opposite Action Worksheet, which allows clients to reflect on their experiences.

*This item is an instant digital download. A link to download your files will be emailed to you once payment is confirmed.

Want more resources like this? Check out our full catalog of DBT worksheets and handouts.


  1. Correa, J. K. (2020). Effects of emotion regulation skills training on worry and emotional distress tolerance: A multiple baseline single-case experimental design (Doctoral dissertation).
  2. Rogg, M., Braakmann, D., Schaich, A., Ambrosch, J., Meine, C., Assmann, N., ... & Fassbinder, E. (2021). How patients with borderline personality disorder experience the skill opposite action in the context of dialectical behavior therapy–A qualitative study. Psychotherapy, 58(4), 544.
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  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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