elcome to The Decider© Skills training portal.



On subsequent visits, when picking up where you left off, click this link to take you to the SKILLS page - scroll to the bottom of that page, click on NEXT, then click on the relevant skills icon at the bottom of the next page.


Completing The Decider Skills online training will enable you to teach The Decider Skills to your client group.

Browse the website www.thedecider.org.uk to find out more about The Decider, particularly the outcomes and feedback pages.

You will be sent one copy of The Decider: A Skills Manual.  You can start the course immediately, but you can also wait for your printed materials to arrive via the regular postal system.  If you live outside the UK, then your printed manuals may take longer to arrive, so we suggest you start the course immediately.

You have access to this training portal for two months.  

People learn differently, so we have included different ways of teaching each skill.  It is this that makes learning The Decider different to other approaches. 

The Decider Skills:

When you have read to the bottom of this page and watched the videos, click on Let's Start and thereafter follow the course steps by clicking on "Next Step" at the bottom of each page as you complete them.

Do not go through the course quickly.  Take it one step/skill at a time. Read ALL the text, watch EVERY video.  Think about how you will use the skill for yourself and with your clients.  Practise the skill - for yourself, then with others.  Practise with friends and family! Repeat the skill if necessary, and make sure you understand the skill, before moving on.

When you watch each skills video, notice the hand signs for each skill.  These are another way of embedding the skills. They are summarised in "Guess the skill" mime at the end the course, or also see the video in The Decider Skills online resources at www.thedecider.org.uk/resources/

The videos in this online training course show the skills being demonstrated to a group of mental health professionals.  When teaching the skills, keep the printed materials the same, and adapt the practical teaching of the skills to your client or student group.

Read your printed manual too, and practise the skills for yourself, and then with others.

The steps of this online course include:

  • Introduction
  • Emotional Emergency
  • The Lifejacket Metaphor
  • The 32 Decider Skills
  • A multiple-choice assessment will ensure that you understand the main elements of The Decider © Skills. You must complete the assessment in order to receive a Certificate of Completion (generated automatically and downloaded/printed after completion of the assessment).  

We hope you enjoy the course!


Michelle Ayres and Carol Vivyan

Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapists




The Decider and Skills Manual were first developed in 2010, in response to an identified service need following the introduction of a new Skills Group to the adult mental health service in Guernsey, Channel Islands.  We used feedback from an initial pilot group, and acknowledged the experience and expertise of service users.

Skills training is cost effective and can have many other benefits.  These include:  increasing client engagement, preparing clients for therapy, reducing the number of therapy sessions required, and underpinning ongoing individual and group therapy work.  Clinicians also report an increase in their own confidence after learning the skills.  Our experience is that clients and clinicians respond well to a fun, visual and memorable approach.

The Decider is strongly grounded in theory, and can be adapted for a range of service settings: adult mental health, child and adolescent, learning disability, substance misuse, forensic and is suitable for all clinicians regardless of their experience or modality. The Decider can also be used as an effective waiting list intervention.  The manual provides a client handout and a detailed explanation for the clinician for how to present each skill.  The skills can be used by adults and children.

The emphasis is on helping clients to live a more skilful, less impulsive life.  Impulsive behaviours can have devastating consequences.  Self harm, avoidance, withdrawal and isolation, aggression, substance misuse and binge eating are behaviours often associated with anxiety, depression, anger, addictions, eating disorders and personality disorders.

The Decider summarises thirty-two Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) informed skills under the four core skill sets of distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.  CBT and DBT both have an impressive evidence-base.

The Lifejacket Metaphor is central to The Decider.  The concept that each skill inflates the lifejacket and the client learns to use it if an ‘emotional emergency’ occurs enables the client to float rather than sink when it seems they are drowning in a sea of distressing emotion.  THE FIZZ represents the physical signs in our body when we are feeling emotion.

The skills are taught to groups and individuals in a highly original and innovative way. Demonstrations, music, props and visuals bring the skills to life making them memorable and easy to learn.  The Decider is future focussed, positive, creative and fun.

The manual is not intended to be adhered to rigidly; we would encourage clinicians to be imaginative and creative using it as a guide to develop their own particular teaching style.




More about The Decider

The Decider has continued to develop since the first edition of The Decider: A Skills Manual was published in 2011.

We now offer:

  • Workshops
  • STOPP app
  • A web app
  • The Decider Life Skills: a 12 skill version for Proactive Mental Health
  • Online training
  • The website is updated frequently, including online resources for clinicians.

The Decider aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice by giving clinicians effective skills to use with clients.  We know WHY clients need to learn new skills – this is the HOW.


“Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose.”  (Frankl). 

The Decider aims to create that space with a choice of skills.

It is useful when presenting the skills for the clinicians to talk about personal authentic experiences to illustrate the skill.  In our experience, clients do appreciate some clinician disclosure.  Clinicians need to be selective and careful about such disclosure.

Each client receives a laminated copy of The Decider, and copies of: handout for each skill, homework sheet for each skill, The Lifejacket Metaphor and THE FIZZ.

The structure for the skills training is flexible, and has been presented in a range of formats that are tailored to the service and client group.

A monthly refresher as a follow-up session appears to be effective at maintaining and embedding use of the skills.  This begins with a brief refresher of all the skills, followed by clients’ reflections on which skills they have found useful.  Clients are reminded to: 

“Ask The Decider!”



Michelle and Carol were awarded the Mental Health Nurse of the Year Award 2015 by the British Journal of Nursing for The Decider.

 Clinician Feedback for The Decider


CAMHS Psychologist


Primary School Headteacher  (talking about The Decider Life Skills)




I have found this approach to be exceptionally effective and highly recommend the team

The Decider Skills

Distress Tolerance Skills Distress Tolerance Skills
STOPP It Will Pass Distract Do One Thing Turn The Mind Right Now Soothe Values
Mindfulness Skills Mindfulness Skills
Breathe Observe This Moment Focus DRIFT Fact or Opinion Wise Mind Keep Calm and Carry On
Emotion Regulation Skills Emotion Regulation Skills
SELF Care Thinking Name the Emotion Opposite Action Sieve or Sponge Build Positive Experiences Balance PACE and PLAN
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
Listen RESPECT Reflect Crystal CLEAR Ask or Say No Maintain Relationship Talk the Talk End or Mend

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