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Recovery Isn’t “Getting Rid” Of Negative Coping Skills, It’s Learning New Skills

If you’ve avoided recovery because giving up the only-ways-you-know-to-survive feels overwhelming, know that the goal of good therapy is not “stopping certain behaviors” – it’s SO MUCH MORE.

Good therapy can hold our ambivalence about whether or not we actually want to make changes. It can help us be curious about experimenting with new ways to cope. Therapy often helps us develop a wider variety of ways to self soothe that we can fall back on, and it helps grow our capacity to choose with mindfulness. Good therapy also teaches us to have compassion on ourselves when we make choices we later wish we hadn’t – and, in doing so, it can prevent a shame spiral if we do make choices to self-soothe in harmful ways.

Coping skills graphic.

Note that there *are* situations in which eliminating a negative coping skill is a priority in treatment in order to prevent imminent harm to self, other, or criminal justice implications – but good treatment never removes a coping method without replacing it with extra resources (such as extended support services or medication as appropriate).

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Instagram screen-grab of the coping skills post.
Image description for screen readers:
There are three glass jars drawn on the left hand side of the image with corresponding phrases on the right side. 

The first jar has a grey screw-on cap and a label that says “Negative Skillz.” The jar is filled with three grey rocks. The corresponding text reads, “We developed negative coping skills because they worked to help us survive.”

The second jar has a cork stopper and is empty, except for a small spider web in the upper left corner of the jar. The corresponding text reads, “Healing isn’t ‘getting rid’ of the ways we cope.”

The third jar has a grey screw-on cap and a label that reads “Jar O’ Copes.” It is filled with rocks of various colors and shapes. The corresponding text reads, “Healing is finding and *adding* healthier ways to cope so we rely less and less on coping in ways that aren’t good for us.”

Therapy Is Hard
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