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What Is Distress Tolerance In DBT? (PDF)

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Distress tolerance is the ability to endure and tolerate distressing situations without making things worse, and is one of the four primary learning modules in DBT. Clients with low distress tolerance struggle to manage intense emotions, which makes them prone to using unhealthy coping mechanisms.

The What is Distress Tolerance in DBT handout introduces distress tolerance by describing its purpose, the three main goals of the skill, and some of its primary benefits. At the bottom of the handout, clients can find a list of specific distress tolerance skills, such as STOP, TIPP, ACCEPTS, and IMPROVE.

When young people use distress tolerance skills, they can experience short-term relief during stressful situations and develop better self-control. A creative tip for helping a child or teen practice distress tolerance at home is to create a calm corner or “relaxation zone” where they can do deep breathing, squeeze a stress ball, or engage in other relaxing distress tolerance activities.

Our Distress Tolerance Skills handout can be a helpful add-on for a detailed, 1-page overview of several distress tolerance skills.

*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. Jamilian HR, Malekirad AA, Farhadi M, Habibi M, Zamani N. Effectiveness of group dialectical behavior therapy (based on core distress tolerance and emotion regulation components) one expulsive anger and impulsive behaviors. Glob J Health Sci. 2014;6(7 Spec No):116-123. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v6n7p116
  2. Lp, J. E. P. (2015c). Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training with Adolescents: A Practical Workbook for Therapists, Teens & Parents. PESI Publishing & Media.
  3. Linehan, M. M. (2014). DBT skills training handouts and worksheets. Guilford Publications.
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