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Urge Surfing Script

Urge surfing helps control behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, emotional outbursts, aggression, and other unwanted impulses. The goal of this technique is to recognize and accept the feelings of an urge, rather than trying to suppress them. Relaxation and distraction are used to “surf” the urge until it fades away.

The Urge Surfing Script provides the language and instruction for a guided version of this classic technique. The script will guide your clients through mindful awareness of their urge, along with visualization and deep breathing practice.

Visualization instructs clients to use their senses to imagine an ocean scene. Focusing on the color of the waves, the crunch of sand, and the smell of saltwater allows clients to immerse themselves in a pleasant scene, providing distraction from their urge.

Next, clients are guided through deep breathing, and given time to practice on their own. Deep breathing helps reduce stress and anxiety, while offering another helpful distraction from the urge. Throughout the exercise, clients are reminded they have the ability to recognize their thoughts and feelings without acting on them. Rather than giving in to an urge, they can ride it out, like a surfer riding a wave.

Urge surfing can be used in addictions treatment, in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

Want a professionally recorded version of this script, complete with music and ocean ambiance? Try our interactive tool:

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8. Ostafin, B. D., & Marlatt, G. A. (2008). Surfing the urge: Experiential acceptance moderates the relation between automatic alcohol motivation and hazardous drinking. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27(4), 404-418.

9. Semple, R. J., & Briere, J. (2020). Adolescent Trauma Training Center.

10. Shonin, E., & Van Gordon, W. (2016). The mechanisms of mindfulness in the treatment of mental illness and addiction. International journal of mental health and addiction, 14(5), 844-849.

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