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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Stone, LMHC

Coping Tools vs. Coping Skills

A question as to the difference (if any) between coping tools and coping skills was recently asked in a closed therapist group. I loved the question and the various responses other therapists gave as it's definitely open to interpretation. I thought I'd share my thoughts more broadly:

In a nutshell, coping refers to getting through difficulties and, hopefully, managing/reducing the effects or experiences which result from those difficulties.

A tool is something you can use if you want/need to and have access to it. A skill is more about knowing what the tool is, when and how to use it, and the how the application/use of it is going to help accomplish the task-at-hand.

In a different context, a "tool" is a hammer which one may know about or have access to in general. The "skill" is knowing what the hammer is for, what it does, and how/when to effectively use it. Its efficacy is enhanced if the use of it is practiced so you use it more proficiently when needed.

All told: all Coping Skills are Coping Tools, but not all Coping Tools are Coping Skills.

What are your thoughts? Do you have a different perspective?



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