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The DBT emotion regulation skill called VITALS stands for Validate self, Imagine, Take small steps, Applaud yourself, Lighten your load, and Sweeten the pot. This teaches clients effective strategies to work on their SMART goals by acknowledging their emotional experiences, imagining success, taking the smallest possible steps, acknowledging accomplishments, getting small tasks out of the way, and rewarding themselves.

The DBT VITALS Handout provides clear and simple information on how the VITALS skill works. Each component of VITALS has relevant icons and explanations that make it easy for young people to implement the skill.

Learning the VITALS skill gives kids and teens more direction, which can help them become more productive and feel confident as they try to reach a goal. We recommend practicing positive affirmations as part of their goal-setting journey. For example, they can tell themselves, “I am getting better every day” and “I can figure this out with patience and faith in my abilities!”

Pair this handout with our DBT VITALS Worksheet to support written application of each step in the VITALS acronym.

*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. Cohen, G. L., & Sherman, D. K. (2014). The Psychology of Change: Self-Affirmation and Social Psychological Intervention. Annual Review of Psychology, 65(1), 333–371. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115137
  2. Carpiniello, B., Vita, A., & Mencacci, C. (2022). Recovery and major mental disorders. Springer Nature.
  3. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2006). New directions in Goal-Setting Theory. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(5), 265–268. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2006.00449.x
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