The Stopp Technique

The STOPP Technique is described as CBT in a nut shell and is an excellent personal / emotional tool for when things become difficult, and take back control of your emotions within stressful situations.

If you are new to STOPP you can see a full write up by clicking the link under the graphic to the left. If you have covered the use of the STOPP technique within an ANJ Counselling Session please read further for a prompt.


Just pause for a moment


Notice your breathing as you breath in and out - use 7/11 breathing technique


  • What thoughts are going through your mind right now? 
  • Where is your focus of attention?  
  • What are you reacting to? 
  • What sensations do you notice in your body?


  • What's the bigger picture? 
  • Take the helicopter view.
  • What is another way of looking at this situation? 
  • What advice would I give a friend? 
  • What would a trusted friend say to me right now? 
  • Is this thought a fact or opinion?
  • What is a more reasonable explanation? 
  • How important is this?  How important will it be in 6 months time? 
  • It will pass.


  • What is the best thing to do right now? 
  • Best for me, for others, for the situation? 
  • What can I do that fits with my values?
  • Do what will be effective and appropriate. 


  • Practise the first two steps often for a few days - many times every day at any time.
  • Read through the steps often.
  • Carry written reminders with you (use the printable resources below).
  • Practise STOPP by running through all the steps several times a day, every day...when you don't need it.
  • Start to use it for little upsets.
  • Gradually, you will find that you can use it for more distressing situations.  Like any new habit or skill, it will become automatic over time.

The steps explained


Say it to yourself, in your head, as soon as you notice your mind and/or your body is reacting to a trigger.

Stop! helps to put in the space between the stimulus (the trigger, whatever we are reacting to) and our response.

The earlier you use STOPP, the easier and more effective it will be.

Take a Breath

Breathing a little deeper and slower will calm down and reduce the physical reaction of emotion/adrenaline.

Focusing on our breathing means we are not so focused on the thoughts and feelings of the distress, so that our minds can start to clear and we can think more logically and rationally.


We can notice the thoughts going through our mind, we can notice what we feel in our body, and we can notice the urge to react in an impulsive way. We can notice the vicious cycle of anxiety, sadness or anger.

Noticing helps us to defuse from those thoughts and feelings and therefore reduce their power and control.

Pull back / Put in some Perspective

The thought challenging of CBT. Thinking differently.

When we step back emotionally from a situation, and start to see the bigger picture, it reduces those distressing beliefs. We can do this by asking ourselves questions.

Practise what works / Proceed

This is the behavioural change of CBT. Doing things differently.

Rather than reacting impulsively with unhelpful consequences, we can CHOOSE our more helpful and positive response.


Full credit to this technique is owed to Carol Vivyan of who has kindly given ANJ permission to use this technique within Counselling and Training assignments.