Saturday, October 24, 2009

Emotion Regulation Handout 8 – Extended

This is another adaptation of a worksheet taken from the Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan. The skills in this book, as well as any other CBT or DBT book, are not limited to BPD nor are they limited to people suffering from any disorder, but are useful to all people.

The handout is a very lengthy list of possible pleasant events you can incorporate into your schedule to be used in conjunction with the ‘Build Positive Experiences’ exercise.
You can find the list here.

The length of the list can actually have a reverse effect in some cases; some basic activities are on the list and this may lead to ‘I’m already doing positive activities so I don’t need to do any more’ type thinking. The goal, of course, is to increase positive events, regardless of what one may be doing currently.

The first step is to go through the list and cross off any activities you know won't bring you any pleasure (for example, if you’re a vegetarian, hunting would be an activity you could remove). The list can also be used as an inventory for mastery skills; as you are editing the list, put an M next to any activity which you find particularly challenging.

Make sure you add in a few activities that are specific to you (e.g. buy new cactus for my collection). Add details to general activities (e.g. instead of ‘ride bike’ include ‘ride bike along beach,’ ‘ride bike to store’…; instead of ‘watch tv’ include ‘watch Show X, Episode 1’…)

Try using an office program (MSWord, Excel) to organise the activities into categories (e.g. exercise, art, social…). That way, if you are in the mood for a particular type of activity, you can locate it more easily. Also, manually rewriting the list will help the ideas stay in your head.

But there is always the problem of motivation and decision making during times of illness. So, try making the task a bit more random in order to alleviate this stress; print out your list and cut out each activity, and pull one (or two or three) out of an envelope each day. You may want a separate envelope for Mastery activities because in order for this method of randomness to work, you have to commit to whichever activity is chosen, no matter what, beforehand and since Mastery activities may be more challenging you may want to focus on those on days when you are feeling stronger.

At the very least, keep the list somewhere you can see it everyday to act as a reminder of possible activities.


  1. I think the world would be a better place if everyone went through a DBT course! ;-) The skills really are incredibly useful.

    Increasingly, DBT is also being used in the treatment of eating disorders. Brilliant move, in my opinion.

  2. I absolutely agree with you on that.