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A complete Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving (STEPPS) is applied to the DSM-5 classification Borderline Personality Disorder. iPractice uses elements from the STEPPS framework to help you identify, name and regulate your emotions so they are less high and you can handle them better. Do you find it hard to control your emotions and is this getting you into trouble? Read more about STEPPS.

What is STEPPS?

STEPPS stands for Systems Training for Emotional Predictability and Problem Solving. It is an emotion regulation training that helps you recognize and understand your own (escalating) emotions. You’ll learn new skills on how to express emotions appropriately. You’ll become better in control of yourself and in relation to others.


What is emotion regulation?

Emotion regulation is the conscious adjustment of your emotions. When you experience problems in emotion regulation you react very strongly or violently to (emotional) stimuli. You experience these stimuli as very intense. The behavior you may exhibit because of this can be experienced as extreme or exaggerated. There is another way to deal more adequately with rising emotions or tensions. STEPPS helps with this.


How does STEPPS work?

Together with your psychologist you’ll discuss your emotions using the “Emotional Intensity Continuum“. It is a 1- to 5-point scale using the metaphor of pots on a burner. It is a way to clearly map your rising emotions. You will recgonize it more and this allows you to respond quickly. You imagine that your emotions are in the pots. At level 1, there is no heat under the pot; at level 5 the pot is boiling over.


During treatment, you and your practitioner will explore what happens inside of you at level 1 through level 5. You observe what emotions you experience, what thoughts you have, what physical sensations you feel and what you tend to do. Reviewing each level helps you regulate the rising emotions. We also consider your environment in this process. What can others do for you or what do you need from them?


Emotions are visualized with the Emotional Intensity Continuum. You’ll to understand your own emotions and you can better articulate how you feel. It ensures that you can prevent your pot from boiling over and your emotions taking over. You also learn how to deal with stressful situations. You discover how to create more peace and balance in your daily life.


During STEPPS you will learn to:

  • Observe your own emotions;
  • Put your emotions into words;
  • Manage your emotions.


Through this training you will break negative, old habits.


When is STEPPS right for you?

The full STEPPS framework was originally developed for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Nowadays, elements from STEPPS are also successfully used when there is an Emotion Regulation Disorder (ERS) in other diagnoses, such as anxiety and depression, personality disorders, burnout-related symptoms, trauma-related symptoms, bipolar disorder and eating problems.


If you find it difficult to regulate your emotions, elements of STEPPS may help. Intense emotions may cause you to make impulsive choices that get you into trouble. It makes you vulnerable to such things as: eating problems, arguments, addictions and mood swings. At iPractice, we employ elements of the STEPPS principle for problems with emotion regulation. The Emotional Intensity Continuum is an element from the STEPPS principle that our psychologists use.


STEPPS; what does a treatment look like?

You’ll start with recording your emotions daily. This will make you aware of the emotions you are experiencing and their intensity.


You will learn some skills to express emotions in a healthy way:


  • Observe;
  • Describe;
  • Challenge;
  • Participate;
  • Handling the problem.


In addition, you will learn how to bring more balance into your life, for example, when it comes to:


  • Eating;
  • Sleeping;
  • Leisure;
  • Relationships.


More balance in your life gives you the resilience to handle your emotions well.


Emotion regulation and mindfulness

Mindfulness exercises can help with emotion regulation. With mindfulness exercises, you train yourself to be present in the here and now. You pay attention to what is happening in the moment without judgment. By consciously going with your attention to what you are feeling in that moment, you recognize more quickly when emotions are running high. In this way, you can respond appropriately. For example, using the Emotional Intensity Continuum, a 1- to 5-point scale using the metaphor of pots on a burner.


STEPPS therapist

During an introductory consultation, a psychologist can work with you to see if STEPPS is appropriate in your situation. It is important that you find a psychologist with whom you feel safe and at ease.


Does iPractice offer the full STEPPS framework?

We only offer short-term treatments, in which we work with elements from STEPPS to better regulate emotions.

publish-icon Published - 6 Feb 2024
Nine has experience with several evidence-based treatment methods, including ACT, CBT, EMDR and STEPPS. In treatments, she focuses on your personal qualities and associated challenges. By deploying elements from STEPPS and using your strengths, Nine can work with you to achieve your goals.
nine gramberg ipractice psycholoog
GZ-Psychologist Nine Gramberg

iPractice offers everyone:

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Psychologists with experience in STEPPS

simone das dores ipractice psycholoog

Simone das Dores

Keri Mans

irene bakker ipractice psycholoog

Irene Bakker

camille kooijman van den brink ipractice psycholoog

Camille Kooijman – van den Brink