How to Tell if Coping Skills Are Working

Therapists love talking about Coping Skills!

But how do you know if they’re working?

I'm sharing everything you ever wanted to know about coping skills here:

This video goes over my 3-step process for knowing if coping skills are working, along with a BONUS question- if you stick around to the end. ;-)

You know that I LOVE talking about coping skills! If you need a quick reminder about what coping skills are, you can check them out in the video here:

First, let’s make sure we’re clear on what it means when a coping skill works.

If using it helps you hang in there through the intensity of an uncomfortable emotion, that’s coping.

Remember, problem solving is a whole other skill-set. We can’t even think about problem solving until our emotions are at a manageable level.

Here’s an easy 3-step process to see if your coping skills are working for you.

  1. Notice that you’re experiencing an intense emotion.

    If you can name it- great! If not, that’s totally OK, too. Rate how intense it feels in your body using a 0-10 scale where 0 is nothing at all and 10 is the most intense it could ever be

  2. Use your chosen coping skill.

    If you’re not sure which coping skill to try, you can try some of the ones I’ve talked about by clicking the links in the video above.

  3. Check in on that emotion again.

    Rate the intensity on a 0-10 scale. Did it go down? Woohoo! Awesome! Did it stay the same? YES! You just prevented it from getting worse. If it went up, try another coping skill, or reach out to a safe responsible adult or a crisis line for more support.

And if it still feels too intense, keep repeating this process. Our emotions naturally change in intensity over time, but you don’t have to suffer through it. Coping skills help us hang in there while our emotions work themselves out.

If you’ve got a favorite healthy coping strategy that works for you make sure you share it in the comments below so others can try it, too!

If you are concerned that you, or someone you know, may be considering killing themselves, please connect them with help.



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Mallory Grimste, LCSW - Teen Therapist

Mental Health Counseling for Anxious Tweens, Teens, and Young Adults | Woodbridge, CT