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Coping Skills

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Updated October 01, 2008

Definition:

Coping skills are those skills that we use to offset disadvantages in day to day life. Coping skills can be seen as a sort of adaptation, such as the finely tuned hearing that many visually impaired people develop.

Coping skills can be positive or negative. Positive coping skills help us get through situations at nearly the same level as those who do not have the disadvantage. Negative coping skills, however, may provide short-term relief or distraction, but ultimately worsen our disadvantage. A common example of a negative coping skill is the abuse of alcohol or drugs.

Many mental health practitioners, particularly those who practice cognitive-behavioral theory, teach clients healthier coping skills for dealing with their issues. For a phobic client, coping skills may include deep breathing, guided imagery and utilizing a support person when facing their fears.

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