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Coping Strategies


Distress tolerance strategies

It is important for survivors to learn how to soothe themselves.

Alterations in the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with childhood trauma and abuse may make it difficult for many survivors to tolerate distress. Many survivors don't learn to self-soothe in childhood. Their parents are often poor at soothing themselves and, consequently, at teaching their children to self-soothe (The Morris Center, 1995). The lack of childhood ‘nurturing’ experiences, and of being taught how to look after oneself or ‘self-soothe’ also contributes to difficulties tolerating distress. Acquiring distress tolerance strategies and self-soothing techniques are important skills for survivors and us all.

It can be helpful to make a list of some pros and cons of tolerating distress (i.e. not acting impulsively)

  • Focus on long-term goals, the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember times when you have tolerated your distress (without acting out, being self-destructive or acting impulsively) and the pain has ended.
  •  Think of the positive consequences of tolerating distress. Imagine how good you can feel if you don’t act impulsively (Linehan, 1993b).

Make another list of the pros and cons of not tolerating distress – that is, of coping by hurting yourself, abusing alcohol and drugs, or doing something else impulsive. Think of the possible negative consequences of not tolerating your current distress and seek help if you are finding it difficult to manage your distress.

Call Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380, 9am-5pm Mon-Sun AEST to speak to a counsellor for support.

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Head to Health


“Blue Knot Foundation has a key role to play in the building of community capacity in care provision to those who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma in any environment.”

NIALL MULLIGAN Manager, Lifeline Northern Rivers

“I think Blue Knot Foundation is a fantastic support organisation for people who have experienced childhood trauma/abuse, for their families/close friends and for professionals who would like to learn how to more effectively work with these people.”

Psychologist Melbourne

“It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Helping people to get through this.”


“It was only last September when I discovered the Blue Knot Foundation website and I will never forget the feeling of support and empathy that I received when I finally made the first phone call to Blue Knot Helpline, which was also the first time I had ever spoken about my abuse.”


"At last there is some sound education and empathetic support for individuals and partners impacted by such gross boundary violations.”


Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
PO Box 597 Milsons Point NSW 1565
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST

Blue Knot Helpline
Phone: 1300 657 380
Hours: Mon-Sun, 9am-5pm AEST

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