Examples of Skill-Building in Positive Supports

Developing Emotional Self-Regulation Skills

Self regulation being spelled with punched out letters against sand background.

The ability to manage our emotions and behavior is a skill that allows humans to live together in a community and achieve important goals. Self-regulation allows people to make plans, choose from alternative decisions, control impulses, decrease unwanted thoughts, and regulate social behavior.

There are a number of positive supports that can help you and others continue working on expanding self-regulation skills. Examples of these positive supports include:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

  • A psychologically-basedl therapy that addresses a range of problems such as anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug usage problems, marital challenges, eating disorders, and mental illness. The CBT process encourages people to change the way they think about their problems. CBT strategies help people learn to recognize their own distorted thinking that is causing them problems in everyday life, and then to evaluate these thoughts. Problem solving skills are introduced to help people cope with challenging situations and to help them develop more confidence in their own abilities. The goal is to change patterns of behavior in ways that empower people to regulate their thoughts and actions.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  • This practice refers to a type of cognitive behavioral treatment originally used to support people with borderline personality disorder. Over time, this practice has been expanded to support people with a range of issues that are related to self-regulating behavior. People who learn to self-regulate can recognize and cope better with strong emotions. Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT has been used to address a number of mental health issues including post-traumatic stress, binge eating, depression and substance misuse. The main goal of dialectical behavior therapy is to learn four strategies: 1) develop skills to regulate emotions, 2) practice mindfulness skills that help people to live in the moment, 3) increase the ability to tolerate distress, and 4) expand relationship-building skills. Therapeutic settings for Dialectical Behavior Therapy involve working in groups to learn new behavioral skills, meeting for individual therapy, and engaging in coaching sessions.


  • A therapeutic strategy that involves focusing one's awareness on the present moment. Mindfulness helps people to accept thoughts and feelings and observe these thoughts without judgment. Over time, mindfulness can help people manage strong emotions, and decrease anxiety, stress, and depression.

Motivational Interviewing

  • Motivation interviewing is an evidence based practice that provides a collaborative and goal-oriented approach for communicating with someone with a focus on the language of change. This approach helps a person strengthen a personal motivation for working on a specific goal. The focus is on helping people explore their own reasons for change while creating a setting that creates a sense of acceptance and compassion.

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy

  • Traumatic life experiences such as child or domestic abuse, natural disasters, or other negative life events can have a lasting impact on a person’s health and emotional wellbeing. Trauma-Informed Cognitive Behavior Therapy is an evidence-based practice that addresses this issue. Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a positive support that teaches children and adults skills to recognize negative or unhealthy thoughts associated with past experiences and to engage in stress management and coping strategies when these thoughts occur. This approach can also include teaching new skills for parents and caregivers of children involved in therapy. A family therapy approach is used to help recognize family dynamics, teach new parenting skills, support stress management for both child and family members, and work on improving communication skills.