Traditional DBT helps develop emotion regulation and impulse control in people who struggle in these areas, but  Radically Open (RO) DBT is an adaptation of DBT targeted towards people struggling in the opposite way:  those with an overabundance of self-control and who struggle to express emotion.

I encountered the text version of this crisis response list in the RO-DBT Manual by Thomas Lynch and decided to turn it into this visual reference sheet.


The nature of crisis is that many of us “go blank” under pressure. What we’ve learned about crisis response in the past may fly out the window when an actual crisis occurs. This visual alternative to an RO-DBT* crisis checklist is designed to be fun to review and easy-to-remember (when we use more parts of our brains to study- like do when we engage visual information- we are more likely to remember)




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Price paid is compensation for art/ illustration services only. For clinical resources see the RO-DBT Manual

Also Available as a professionally printed 18×24: poster


*One very important note:

This crisis response model was developed specifically for individuals with high self-control and low impulsivity. All items on the list may not be safe or applicable to everyone experiencing a crisis. Always call emergency responders if you are concerned someone is in imminent danger of harming themselves.

This list is an extremely condensed version of the instructions for practitioners for crisis response that are described in the RO-DBT manual. Please refer to the manual for any clarification, this visual is meant to be a sort of artistic “cheat sheet” for refreshing information already learned.

1. Thank you for telling me
2. ask: what set this off?
3. seek what they are trying to communicate
4. check-in and invite criticism, “did I miss something?”
5. validate: “no wonder you feel…”
6. Show concern. Don’t force yourself not to react.
7. Signal openness. Balance concern with signals of openness.
8. Take a break together, go for a walk or make a snack (this can diffuse intensity).
9. Remove access to method or make a plan to remove access to the method and follow up on the plan.
10. Self examine. Be radically open to your own experience of what is happening.
11. Ask what social signal is being sent in the interaction.
12. Show your care with an emotional appeal such as “please stay”.
13. Show trust: “I believe in you and your recovery”.
14. Say “I don’t want you to do this”
15. Encourage use of self-control
16. Introduce self inquiry: invite them to use crisis as discovery about themselves.
17. Remind person of their commitments, agreements, and promises and emphasize their integrity
18. Get back up. Make sure the person has crisis resources (don’t try to carry the burden alone and push yourself past your own boundaries)
19. Ask them to agree to a safety plan. If appropriate, have them call a friend to be present.
20. Connect and get contact information for person’s other support people.
21. If suicidality cannot be reduced, go with the person to emergency services.

In accordance with this website’s terms of use, this data is presented as an educational resource and artistic creation. The resources posted on Instagram and my website are not therapy and do not construe a therapeutic relationship.  


RO-DBT Crisis Response - Steps to Containing a Mental Health Crisis

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