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DBT Willfulness vs Willingness (PDF)

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Willingness and willfulness are contrasting attitudes that individuals use when faced with negative situations. Whereas willingness involves accepting reality with openness and being adaptable, willfulness means resisting change and being inflexible. People who approach situations with willingness can experience personal growth.

The DBT Willfulness vs Willingness PDF handout explains the difference between these two attitudes. It guides clients in developing willingness by providing a list of steps, which include recognizing instances of willfulness and actively engaging with reality. If they remain willful, the handout encourages them to ask, “What’s the threat?”

Focusing on willingness over willfulness increases resilience in young people and helps them to be more effective during distress. After using the handout, caring adults can introduce a scenario problem where a child or teen can brainstorm different ways to approach the situation.

This handout pairs well alongside our DBT Willingness vs Willfulness Worksheet, which can encourage self-reflection.

*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. Lp, J. E. P. (2015c). Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training with Adolescents: A Practical Workbook for Therapists, Teens & Parents. PESI Publishing & Media.
  2. Linehan, M. M. (2014). DBT skills training handouts and worksheets. Guilford Publications.
  • Instant digital download
  • File: PDF
  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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