Distress Tolerance Skills for Young People


Distress Tolerance Skills for Young People

Presented by Dr. Madeline Wishart

Pain is part of the human experience and we all experience crises at different times in our lives. Some young people have difficulty tolerating any distress and regulating their emotions, engaging in unhelpful behaviours in an attempt to downregulate (i.e., to reduce, alleviate or ameliorate unwanted emotions) or upregulate their emotions (i.e., to generate feelings or feel something). Unlike traditional therapies, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) takes a skills-based approach to learning to sit with and accept these uncomfortable emotions when pain is unavoidable. Distress tolerance skills are aimed at helping young people cope with crises and experience distress without avoiding it or making it worse.

This full day workshop will draw upon Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) to teach a range of coping, distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills. This skill set will focus on strategies that can be assimilated directly back into your school environment. These skills will help your students learn to better tolerate intense, overwhelming or uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, memories or images, urges, and physical sensations without engaging in unhelpful, impulsive, challenging or harmful behaviours, such as self-injury, substance use, binge eating, lashing out or avoidance. 

See below for full workshop description and Dr Madeline Wishart's Bio.


Virtual: Wednesday 21st February 2024

Other dates will be announced in due course - F2F and Virtual

All workshops are 9am - 4pm

In the event that covid related issues prevent a F2F event going ahead workshop will revert to an online format.


ACTIVE CPD HOURS: This workshop has an optional post workshop assessment. Delegates who complete this assessment are able to claim 6 hours of Active CPD.

CPD Hours: All other delegates are able to claim 6 hours of self identified CPD in your respective professions.


Virtual Workshops:
Early Bird:
$352 inc GST (15 days prior to workshop) Standard: $407 inc GST (within 15 business days of workshop)

F2F Workshops:
Early Bird: Workshop: $407 inc GST (15 days prior to workshop) Standard: $462 inc GST (within 15 business days of workshop)


Dr Madeline Wishart is a Clinical Psychologist with a special interest in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), and young people who experience difficulty in regulating their emotionally and tolerating distress. She has a PhD, along with a Masters in both Professional and Clinical Psychology. Madeline has a combined history of both research and practical experience across a variety of settings. She has worked in the education, community, private and psychiatric sectors as a youth, school, trauma counsellor, and psychologist. In an academic and research capacity, Madeline has been employed as a sessional lecturer and project officer at Victoria University; and a research officer at Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) in Melbourne. Madeline also has over 18 years of experience presenting on managing and treating NSSI in young people. She has recently been working as a psychologist at Wyndham Clinic Private Hospital. Madeline currently divides her time between her private practice – Wishart Psychology; and working in a consultative capacity with schools providing professional development, therapeutic support and policy development around NSSI and coping skills more broadly.

Dr Wishart is an outstanding speaker. With an academic background and vast experience in working with young people, including years as a school counsellor, Dr Wishart provides extensive knowledge and highly practical workshops - much of which you will be able to directly and immediately incorporate into your own schools.

Workshop Outline

Session 1

This session will focus on laying the theoretical underpinnings for understanding distress tolerance, including a brief introduction to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). An overview of the empirical evidence of DBT skills for adolescents. Why do some adolescents struggle with tolerating distress and regulating their emotions? What is Distress Tolerance? When and why distress tolerance skills should be used.

Session 2

During this session we will start to fill your distress tolerance toolbox with some skills. Developing an understanding of different coping styles. Emotions eek! - avoid, numb, supress, and push away at all costs! Mindfulness is a superpower, so let’s get really comfortable with it. Mindfulness myth busting. The three mind states in DBT.

Session 3

Validation versus the “but”. Urges aren’t so scary! Beyond rubber bands: using distress tolerance skills for harmful or unhelpful behaviours. Crisis survival skills. Creating a crisis survival kit.

Session 4

Introduction to emotion regulation skills and when to use them. Putting it all into practice. Creating change and challenging “stuck” students. Practice, patience, and perseverance: lessons from nature.