A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice

SKILLS - The Stop Skill

July 31, 2020 Rebekah Shackney Season 1 Episode 12
A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice
SKILLS - The Stop Skill
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.

In todays episode, I discuss the STOP Skill and how it can be applied to worry thoughts or ruminations. When practiced regularly, this skill can STOP worry thoughts in their tracks.

Thanks so much for joining me today for A Therapist Takes Her Own Advice bonus skills episode. Remember that the information shared here is not a replacement for treatment with a licensed professional. If you connected with what you heard here, and you want to work with me, 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 to podcasts.


Hi I’m Rebekah Shackney, this bonus episode is part of a series of skills I teach my clients. Today I’m going to tell you about using the DBT Stop Skill to stop worry thoughts.


Ruminating thoughts plague many people with a nonstop string of worries about past mistakes, current stress and future fears. They feel like an engine that keeps revving higher and higher and you can’t seem to take your foot off the gas pedal. These thoughts infiltrate your mind and deceive you into believing that you are working toward a solution to your problems. They make you think you’re doing something to fix the situation, but really you are not solving anything. You are just falling down the rabbit hole of worry and suffering. 

Imagine walking through your living room when you hear a news report about the rising numbers of Covid cases, you start to worry about sending your kids back to school, what if they go back and get sick, what if they stay home and fall behind, how will you keep them safe and occupied with your endless stream of zoom meetings, will life ever be back to normal, and on and on until you’ve lost and hour or more of your life to worry.

The Stop skill can help you end the painful habit of ruminating by getting out of your head and getting back to your life.

When you become aware of ruminating/worry thoughts the following steps can change what’s happening in your mind. You will likely have to repeat these steps again and again, and over time the thoughts will become less and less uncomfortable and intrusive. Be patient. Remember change is hard so do your best with judging yourself. 


When you become aware of the ruminating/worry thoughts stop! Don’t react. Don’t judge. 

Take a step back. Take a deep breath. Remember that worry thoughts don’t help they only create more suffering. If there is a problem to solve you must wait to address it when you are calm and centered. When you are stuck in a ruminating/worry cycle you are in what is referred to in DBT as emotion mind. You’re acting on your emotions and your unable to think clearly. nothing gets resolved or figured you must wait until you’re calm and centered in wise mind to problem solve.


Notice what is going on. Are you in a stressful situation? What is 

going on around you. Are you tired? Hungry? Anxious? Do a body scan. Are you holding tension in your body? Or is ruminating just your minds fallback position? 


Act with awareness. Remind yourself that WORRYING DOES NOT HELP and PROBLEMS WON’T BE SOLVED BY RUMINATING no matter what your mind and body tell you. Make a note to revisit the problem you’re worried about when you’re in a calm relaxed state. Think about what needs to be done today, in this moment, and move forward with that in mind. 

You may have to repeat this cycle again and again as ruminating is likely a long-term habit. Don’t judge yourself for ruminating. It’s a default setting for your mind right now and you are working to change it so be gentle with yourself. change is hard. As humans we are creatures of habit not creatures of change. If you would like to learn more DBT skills or you if you need further guidance reach out to me. I’d be happy to help.  Go to Rebekahshackney.com and send me a message through my contact page.