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DBT Urge Surfing Technique Handout

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Urge surfing is a mindfulness skill that refers to managing unwanted urges or behaviors like emotional outbursts, aggression, or addictive urges. Instead of trying to suppress or give in to the urge, individuals are encouraged to practice acceptance or “riding out the waves of urges” on an imaginary surfboard.

The DBT Urge Surfing Technique Handout explains what urge surfing is and guides clients on adopting a non-judgmental stance towards the urge in four steps. It illustrates a wave, along with different stages of the urge, such as the trigger, rise, peak, and fall.

Using this handout helps kids and teens learn to manage unwanted urges and emotions, and reduce impulsive behavior, which leads to better self-control. When they feel an urge coming, they can pause and focus on breathing exercises.

Our 3-page Urge Surfing Worksheets are a helpful supplement to this handout for those looking to apply and reflect upon the urge surfing technique.

*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. Bowen, S., & Marlatt, A. (2009). Surfing the urge: Brief mindfulness-based intervention for college student smokers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(4), 666–671. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017127
  2. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Karazsia, B. T., Myers, R. E., Kim, E., Chan, J., Jackman, M. M., McPherson, C. L., & Janson, M. (2019). Surfing the Urge: An informal mindfulness practice for the self-management of aggression by adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 12, 170–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2018.10.003
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  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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