Read Our 2023 Annual Outcomes Report

A young woman with red hair sits in front of her computer next to a young man. She is smiling because she is in control of her emotions after using the check the facts DBT skill.

Check the Facts DBT

5 min.

You can use check the facts, a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skill, to reframe your thoughts before jumping to conclusions. Keep reading to learn how.

By: Charlie Health Editorial Team

Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC

July 12, 2023


share icon Facebook logo LinkedIn logo

Table of Contents

What is the check the facts DBT skill?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a strategy-focused therapy that teaches people to manage intense emotions through different skills—including the “check the facts” skill, which helps people reframe their thinking before concluding that their thoughts and feelings are final. The check the facts DBT skill guides people to identify what triggered their emotion, describe what they observed with their senses, and challenge judgments and black-and-white thinking. This DBT skill helps people align their emotional responses with the factual reality of situations, enabling people to manage intense feelings and strengthen their connection with others.

Remember, while the skill can be a helpful tool, it is not a substitute for professional help. If you’re dealing with severe emotional distress or mental health issues, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Those using the check the facts skill for a diagnosed mental health condition should do so with the support of a therapist.

What is the check the facts DBT skill used for?

The primary use of this skill is to help people manage and regulate an emotional response by examining the factual evidence supporting their thoughts, feelings, and assumptions. This process helps people differentiate facts from interpretations or judgments, which can often be distorted by emotions. Using the check the facts DBT skill can help people with emotional regulation and distress tolerance.

The steps involved in the check the facts DBT skills are as follows:

  • Identifying the emotion: Recognizing what you’re feeling and why.
  • Identifying the prompting event: Determining what triggered the emotion.
  • Clarifying thoughts: Identifying the thoughts or beliefs associated with the emotion.
  • Checking the facts: Evaluating if the emotion and its intensity match the actual facts of the situation.
  • Formulating a new response: If the facts don’t align with the emotion, the goal is to change your emotional reaction to fit the facts better.

This DBT skill is particularly useful for people who struggle with intense emotions or those who have difficulty distinguishing between their thoughts and the reality of situations. It improves emotional intelligence and prompts healthier responses to stressful situations.

Download our free DBT Skills Guide today

Get 30+ pages of family mental health resources sent straight to your inbox

By entering your email you agree to receive marketing communications from Charlie Health. You can unsubscribe anytime.

Who can use the check the facts DBT skill?

The check the facts DBT skill can be used by anyone who needs help managing challenging feelings, negative thoughts, or emotional responses. It’s particularly beneficial for people dealing with mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder (BPD), depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders, as these conditions often involve difficulties with emotion regulation.

However, it’s not only limited to those with mental health conditions. Even people without such conditions can use this tool to improve their emotional intelligence, resolve conflicts more effectively, and enhance their overall well-being. The check the facts DBT skill can be used in various settings, including personal self-reflection, therapy sessions, group counseling, and even in educational environments to teach emotion regulation and distress tolerance skills.

Charlie Health shield logo

Level-up your mental health from home.

Personalized virtual therapy designed for your unique needs.

What are the benefits of using the facts DBT skill?

As mentioned, check the facts DBT skill offers several benefits, particularly in regard to emotion regulation and mental health. Here are a few key benefits:

Improved emotional intelligence

The skill helps people better understand their emotions and the triggers behind them, improving emotional self-awareness.

Reduced emotional reactivity

By analyzing whether emotions fit the facts of the situation, people can reduce overreactions or emotional responses that are disproportionate to the situation at hand.

Enhanced problem-solving skills

With a clearer understanding of their feelings and the reality of situations, people can make more rational decisions and find effective solutions to their problems.

Better interpersonal relationships

Understanding one’s own emotions can lead to improved empathy and understanding of others’ emotions, leading to healthier relationships.

Improved mental health

Regular use of this tool can help manage symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and BPD.

A young woman in pink headphones and a blue sweatshirt sits in a chair at her desk in front of her laptop during a group therapy session where she is learning about the check the facts DBT skill.

Greater self-confidence

Gaining control over one’s emotions can lead to increased self-esteem and confidence in handling challenging situations.

Remember that while this tool can provide significant benefits, it is most effective when used under the guidance of a mental health professional, especially for those dealing with diagnosed mental health conditions.

Check the facts DBT skill example

Now that you know what check the facts is, you may wonder how to use it. Let’s run through an example. Let’s say you had made dinner plans with a friend and had been looking forward to them all week when your friend suddenly canceled on you. You find yourself starting to react strongly, and you check in with yourself using the check the facts skill:

Identify the emotion

You feel extremely angry.

Identify the prompting event

Your friend cancels dinner plans at the last minute.

Describe your interpretation

You think, “They don’t respect my time. They always cancel on me. They don’t care about our friendship.”

Check the facts

You recall that this is the first time your friend has canceled plans in several months. They apologized and mentioned a family emergency as the reason.

Determine if the emotion fits the facts

Given the facts, your intense anger may not be entirely fitting. While it’s understandable to feel disappointed or slightly annoyed, the extreme anger doesn’t match the situation, especially considering the reason for the cancellation and their history of reliability.

Formulate a new response

Next time, before jumping to conclusions, you could ask for more information or express your feelings in a calm, non-accusatory manner. You might also remind yourself that everyone has emergencies sometimes and that one cancellation doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t value your time or friendship.

This process helps to ensure that your emotions and reactions are in line with the reality of the situation, rather than being driven by assumptions or misinterpretations.

DBT with Charlie Health

If you think DBT therapy might be a useful tool for yourself or a loved one, Charlie Health may be able to help. Charlie Health’s trained clinicians offer DBT as well as many other useful forms of therapy for people dealing with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, ADHD, and BPD. Reach out to get signed up today

Charlie Health shield logo

Comprehensive mental health treatment from home

90% of Charlie Health clients and their families would recommend Charlie Health

Girl smiling talking to her mother

We're building treatment plans as unique as you.