Triggers and feeling tones

Intentions and notes

The intention of this group is to equip people with a tool to use when triggered, which will help to build self-efficacy and reduce relapse. Even just knowing they have learned – and practised – a tool in group will help to do these things, and hopefully if they remember to actually do it when triggered, they may find it buys them some space to make a different decision.

It’s helpful to do the body scan as the suggested practice, as it means you can mention later in the exercise about exploring cravings in the body, “just like in the body scan”. The model is similar to those found elsewhere (MBAR being the closest), but I’ve not seen it explained exactly like this anywhere else, so I put it to the group and invite them to see if it rings true for them or not (a good reminder that this is good practice with this whole course!). Whenever I have done this group it has strongly resonated with clients.

The aim of the exercise is to introduce a mindfulness-based theory of the relapse process to them, and then make it useful by giving them something clear and simple they can do when they realise they are caught up in the process – 1. name the feeling tone; 2. explore feelings in the body – and that this will give them some space in which to be able to respond differently. This two-step suggested action has a number of effects, including:

  • decentring – by naming their experience as ‘pleasant’, ‘unpleasant’, or ‘neither’, they have taken a step back and helped themselves to make some space between this feeling and the part of them observing it;
  • the simple act of naming can take the power out of it too, normalising something that can feel overwhelming;
  • by then exploring related body sensations they can, instead of pushing away feelings, explore them non-judgmentally in a less threatening way.


  • Download printable group outline, worksheet and handout here.

You will also need

  • Pieces of A4, each with one of the following on:
    • FEELING TONE (pleasant/unpleasant/neither)
  • Pens and clipboards or something to lean on


Title and running order of group

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