A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice

SKILLS - Creating A Crisis Survival Kit

July 24, 2020 Rebekah Shackney Season 1 Episode 10
A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice
SKILLS - Creating A Crisis Survival Kit
Show Notes Transcript

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a therapist is constantly filling a client's toolbox with strategies and skills to help them cope with daily challenges, anxieties and emotional conundrums. This series of bonus episodes will explore some of those skills and how to apply them to every day life.

What can you do to get through a crisis without making the problem worse? I suggest to clients that they create a crisis survival kit, which is collection of items to have on hand to use when you’re in a crisis. The idea is to use the items in the kit to relieve the emotional stress enough so you can make the next right choice…rather than do something impulsive that would make the situation worse.

Thanks so much for joining me today for A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice. Remember that the information shared here is not a replacement for treatment with a licensed professional. If you need support please reach out. Call your doctor, your insurance company or contact me. Go to my website, rebekahshackney.com and send me aa message through my contact page. And if you have enjoyed what you’ve heard here, please subscribe, rate and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Hi this is Rebekah Shackney, this bonus episode is part of a series where I talk about skills teach my clients. Today I’m going to tell you about creating a crisis survival kit 

 

Pain, both physical and emotional, is part of life. At some point, everyone experiences it. As Longfellow wrote, “Into each life some rain must fall.” How you react when a painful situation occurs makes all the difference. you don’t have to stand out in the rain and get wet. You can use an umbrella or go inside. Similarly, there are things you can do to manage painful situations.

You can do something impulsive (yelling, screaming, hitting, throwing, punching), but those behaviors are not likely to make you feel any better. In fact, impulsive behaviors often come with their own set of consequences that ultimately make the situation much worse. 

But then, What can you do to get through a crisis without compounding the problem? In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a model of therapy created by Marsha Linehan, the tools to get through a crisis are called crisis survival skills. The goal of these skills is to get through a crisis without making the situation worse. They are intended for painful situations that you can’t immediately change.

I suggest to clients that they create a crisis survival kit, which is collection of items to have on hand to use when you’re in a crisis. The idea is to use the items in the kit to relieve the emotional stress enough so you can make the next right choice…rather than do something impulsive that would make the situation worse. 

Keep in mind that when you are at the peak of emotional pain it is too late to intervene with one of these ideas. You need to start when you’re at a 6 or a 7 emotionally not a 10. Store the kit close at hand (in your bag, your car, your room, etc). 

Get a box, bag or basket and assemble things that can help you get through a crisis. Think about triggering the 5 senses. My suggestions are not exhaustive. Add your own ideas. I suggest you Practice using kit before you need it to figure out what works and what doesn’t. 

Vision: Put together photos of people, places and things that make you smile. Create an album of photos on your smart phone or use hard copies. Add a fun magazine, a crossword puzzle, Sodoku, bubbles, old thank you cards or letters. Write a note to remind yourself that you can get through this. Keep paper and pen to draw or write about how you’re feeling. 

Hearing: Write yourself a note with suggestions for hearing: listen to music (create play-lists that illicit pleasant emotions, bring back happy memories, make you want to dance, etc), call a friend or family member to vent or just hear a friendly voice, go outside and focus on the sounds you hear, listen to a podcast, a guided meditation, etc. 

Smell: Find aroma therapy lotions, oils, or candles that trigger relaxation and/or happiness, use perfume that you love, write a note to remind yourself of other things you can do: go outside and breath the fresh air, make coffee, bake cookies, bread, etc. 

Taste: Add in gum, mints, chocolates...anything you like, write a note to remind yourself of things you can do: eat a special meal, treat yourself to dessert, make a cup a tea, coffee or hot chocolate, eat a meal mindfully...focus on what you are eating and taste every bite 

Touch: Put in a stress ball, Playdough, silly putty, fidget spinner, favorite stuffed animal, get into bed and pull-up the covers, use a weighted blanket, write a note to remind yourself of things you can do: splash cold water on your face, get a massage or facial, put on comfortable clothes, wear cozy slippers or socks, massage your neck, face and temples, take a hot shower, tense and relax each muscle group one at a time. 

Again, I strongly recommend trying out the kit before you need it so you know the items you choose work for you. Also, you can combine the activities to make them more effective. Remember, the purpose of the crisis survival kit is not to solve the problem at hand. The purpose is relieving your pain enough to make the next good choice. 

Thanks so much for joining me today for A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice. Remember that this information shared here today is not a replacement for treatment with a licensed professional. If you need support please reach out.  Go to my website, rebekahshackney.com and send a message through my contact page. And if you have enjoyed what you’ve heard here, please subscribe, rate and review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen