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February DBT Challenge: Thought Defusion

By Rosemary Cruz

Imagine how many thoughts you might have in one minute. Now imagine how many you might have in three minutes. What might that be in an hour or a day? Sounds like a lot, right? Sometimes it may be hard to sort through those thoughts and we may even feel stuck or obsessed with certain ones. Practicing thought diffusion can be a helpful way to observe and sort through uncomfortable and or perhaps harmful feelings, so that we can cope and not be held in an difficult place. With this skill, you can choose which thoughts you'd like to focus on and which ones you'd like to let go without overanalyzing and being stuck on the negative. Here's how you can do it:

Steps to Thought Defusion:

1. Visualize Your Thoughts: Imagine your thoughts as pictures or words. For example this may mean visualizing thoughts about a relationship as a person or maybe even their name. Practice condensing long thoughts into one word or a simple picture that can represent it.

2. Use Radical Acceptance: Practice letting your thoughts be the way they are. Observe them as they come and go. Watch them move freely through your mind without getting distracted or attempting to fight them from happening. Practice not judging or criticizing yourself for having those thoughts.

3. Pick a Place: Pick a place that you can visualize your thoughts moving, floating, or flowing in and out like the ones below.
-In a field with clouds floating by
-Near a stream that has leaves floating by
-On the beach watching words in the sand, being washed away by the waves
-On a street watching signs or billboards go by
-Under a tree watching leaves, fruit, pinecones, or nuts fall
-In a room with two doors opening when thoughts go through and closing when they leave

4. Practice, Practice, Practice: Practice putting the pieces together, as you visualize your thoughts as pictures or words that are moving in and out of your mind. Do this without judging or criticizing yourself for having them. If it's difficult to practice using your own imagination, try using this guided practice where you can watch your thoughts float by like leaves on a stream.

5. Repeat: Repeat this practice and skill as often as it feels comfortable in order to gain comfort sorting through your thoughts. It's okay to struggle with it, it'll get easier over time.


Your DBT Challenge:

Negative thoughts don't have to stay in your mind. Try Thought Defusion this month and practice letting go of the things standing in the way of your peace.


Try some new skills out today! Send us an email ( or share with us on Facebook what skills your tried.

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My name is Rosemary Cruz and I am currently working on completing my last two semesters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling (MA) at Aquinas College. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Previously, I’ve worked as a behavior technician, providing ABA therapy with children on the Autism Spectrum. While that continues to be a passion of mine, I am passionate about helping all clients find their voice, where they can have a safe place that allows them to be heard. Lastly, as bilingual speaker, I am able to provide services in Spanish.

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