The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy skills building mastery and coping ahead are based on building and appreciating the feeling of achievement. This feeling is most often created when we achieve a goal or accomplish something fairly difficult – but still doable.

Coping ahead requires that we strategically plan how to solve a potential future problem by using our emotional regulation skills. This requires that we are familiar with the techniques and are able to implement them in daily life.

As with all things on the therapeutic journey, perfection is not a requirement, rather we are aiming for progress!

Building Mastery

It is important to acknowledge that there are many universal activities that we are all engaged with – some of them can be quite basic whilst others are more advanced – all are equally important.  

Examples Basic Mastery

It is easy to undermine our efforts when considering day to day tasks that could almost be described as invisible work. It can be useful to observe and acknowledge the effort we put into these activities and that they are important.

  • Taking care of the children
  • Cleaning and tidying up
  • Hygiene (taking a shower, keeping clean clothes)
  • Doing laundry
  • Cooking and eating balanced meals
  • Shopping for groceries and other necessities
  • Doing the dishes
  • Paying bills and opening mail
  • Answering calls
  • Taking care of our Physical fitness
  • Completing other important tasks

Activity –

Is there something on this list that you’ve been postponing? What you need to do as a priority?  
After you’ve done the activity note how you felt after doing them? Try to be open to the experience of a sense of competence and accomplishment.

Advanced Mastery

As you build confidence with the basic activities, try some more advanced goals

  • Taking more care of physical fitness
  • Achieving work goals
  • Enjoying and developing a hobby
  • Making a plan to resolve a problem
  • Practicing certain skill
  • Trying to be more effective interpersonally
  • Starting and finishing something outside your comfort zone at home or at work
  • Being assertive in a particular situation

Activity –

As with the previous list, choose an activity and commit yourself to doing it. Be realistic,  are there particular goals listed here, or that you have in mind, that are both difficult and doable?

After you completed the activity note whether your sense of accomplishment has increased and what that is like.

Are there important activities that are not listed here that can contribute to your sense of accomplishment and effectiveness?

Coping Ahead

Step One: Imagine and describe a situation

Think about a situation that is problematic for you – an event that often happens and causes you to feel overwhelming emotions. Describe in writing in as much detail as you can how the situation plays out and what happens noth internally and externally.

Step Two: What skill do you want to apply?

Now think about the skills you have developed – such as setting boundaries , thought diffusion, or radical acceptance.

Step Three: Rehearse it in your head

Imagine how you would might apply a particular skill to the situation you have in mind – describe what you would do and how the particular skill fits with the situation you face.

Don’t forget that we are aiming for progress not perfection!