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6 DBT Skills for Anger

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment model intended to help people strengthen their skills in emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. DBT was originally developed for treating borderline personality disorder, but it's also beneficial for depression, anxiety, impulse control, substance use, and anger management.

Implementing DBT for anger can help you feel more in control of the situation. These skills can also reduce the intensity of negative emotions.

Understanding Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Anger

People who struggle with anger often have complex histories of emotional vulnerability. If, for example, you weren't allowed to express anger as a child, you may not have learned how to safely share intense emotions in your adult life. Or, if you were exposed to constant screaming, threats, or other forms of anger-related chaos, that kind of expression becomes normalized.

Dialectical behavior therapy skills are multifaceted, and they can be used in distressing moments to provide immediate relief. Some of these strategies provide a sense of self-soothing, whereas others are more cognitive and adaptive in your relationships.

Opposite Action

Opposite action is a simple DBT skill that can have profound effects. The next time you feel overwhelmed, instead of acting out with your anger in your usual way, ignore that typical impulse and do something different.

For example, if you usually self-harm when you feel frustrated, you might choose to go for a walk. Or, if you snap at your partner when they irritate you, you might choose to wait a few moments before approaching them calmly.

You can't help getting angry. But the more you practice coping with distressing situations differently, the easier it feels to manage your feelings moment-by-moment.

Check the Facts

When people get angry, they can quickly assume that their anger reveals an absolute truth about a situation. Checking the facts encourages you to separate a strong negative emotion from a more objective reality.

To do this skill, you can ask yourself:

  • How else might someone interpret this specific event?

  • Does my anger mean I'm assuming that a threat exists?

  • Does the intensity of my emotion fit the current facts?

Radical Acceptance for Anger Management

Radical acceptance entails wholeheartedly accepting the reality of a current situation. The goal is to accept something for what it is (which isn't synonymous with liking it).

People who practice radical acceptance often feel more at peace with their daily lives, and they also tend to be better at managing stress.

The next time you feel hot or angry, stop and tell yourself, "I will choose to accept this moment." Over time, this strategy can reduce emotional vulnerability and help you engage in more mindfulness.


DEAR MAN is an acronym that can help you regulate emotions and improve your relationships. The next time you feel angry with another person, take a moment and pause. Describe the situation and express why you feel the way you do. Assert what you need (straightforwardly and compassionately). Reinforce others when they treat you respectfully.

Be mindful of your emotions as you engage with people. Act confident in interpersonal situations, even when you feel nervous. Finally, be prepared to negotiate and find a compromise that works in everyone's best interest. Repeating these skills in this order is excellent for communicating your needs to others.


TIPP is another acronym that can be used in crisis situations or moments of extreme anger. TIPP stands for temperature change, intense exercise, paced breathing, and paired muscle relaxation.

Temperature change: Submerge yourself in cold or hot water (showers, icecubes, holding something very hot).

Intense exercise: Spend at least 10-20 minutes engaging in intense physical activity that raises your heart rate.

Paced breathing: Engage in deep breathing while counting to beats of five. If this is challenging for you, follow a guided meditation.

Paired muscle relaxation: Scan through your body and progressively tense and then relax various body parts moving from head to toe.


The mind and body are undoubtedly connected, and The PLEASE acronym is intended to help you check your physical health. Attuning to basic needs is an important part of emotional regulation.

Physical illness: If you have a physical illness, it's essential to take care of your symptoms and ensure that you're seeking routine evaluations by your healthcare provider.

Balanced eating: Are you eating regularly? Are you ensuring that you incorporate good nutrition into your daily routine?

Avoiding mood-altering substances: Substance abuse can go hand-in-hand with intense anger. As much as possible, it's critical to eliminate or reduce drugs and alcohol.

Balanced sleep: Sleep supports good health, and it's very easy to become irritable when you're sleep deprived. Aim to go to bed around the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.

Exercise: Do you make the effort to exercise regularly? If not, how can you implement more physical activity into your routine?

Professional Treatment for Anger and Emotion Regulation

At Resurface Group, we recognize the impact between emotion dysregulation and poor mental health. If everything feels like an emotional crisis, it's easy to slip into habits of substance abuse, toxic relationships, or other problematic patterns. It's also easy to feel like anger controls your life, which can cause immense pain.

We are here to support you or your loved ones to have a more meaningful and content life. Contact us today to learn more about how our behavioral therapy programs, group skills training, and wraparound treatment can help you.

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