Dialectical Behavior Therapy

While these are often talked about in reference to BPD, DBT skills can be helpful for a lot of people. There are so many different skills that even if you find some aren't helpful, it doesn't mean none of them will be helpful. 

This page will help talk you through some of the skills but please note that this is NOT a substitution for therapy, and if possible, a lot of these should be discussed with a professional. 

Please note: This page is a work in progress and is not completed. The ones that link to a blog post are linking to a blog post that I wrote with examples and more detailed information, and if relevant, a worksheet to go along with it. These ones that link to a detailed blog post have a line under them and can be clicked!

Mindfulness: 

These skills focus on being present in the moment. Usually, it focuses on encouraging you to connect with yourself and others. 

Some mindfulness skills are: 

What Skills

  1. Observe - Observe what is happening without reacting or adding commentary. For example, you might listen to the sounds around you and listen to what those sounds are without adding any additional comments. The goal is to focus on the here and now. 

  2. Describe - When a feeling or thought arises, describe what is taking place to yourself, and label your feelings.. Let them go and don't dwell on them (don't judge them).

  3. Participate - Fully immerse yourself in the activity and don't focus on other things.

How Skills

  • Effectively: Focusing on what works rather than focusing on what should happen, and what's right or fair. 

  • Non-Judgmentally: This is about observing something, acknowledging it and then letting it go without attaching any opinions, judgements or guilt to it. Even if you have a judgmental thought, once you observe that thought, you let it go without beating yourself up for having it.

  • One-Mindful: This is the act of focusing on one thing at a time. This is being fully present in the moment with your focus on only one thing. 

Why Skills

  • Urge Surfing: The goal is to basically “ride the wave” until the urge passes, and over time, your brain will learn that it doesn’t need to react to urges. 

  • Wise Mind: The goal of this skill is to balance your emotional mind and your reasonable mind. 

Tolerance:

These skills focus on surviving an immediate emotional crisis. 

  • ACCEPTS: Focuses on distracting with: Activities, Contributing, Comparisons, Emotions, Pushing away, Thoughts, Sensations

  • Grounding: The goal of grounding is to get you in the here and now. This can be especially helpful for overwhelming emotions, anxiety, panic, flashbacks and other situations. 

  • Pros/Cons: Describe the behaviour you are trying to avoid. Consider the positive consequences (pros) of avoiding that behaviour. Consider the negative consequences (cons) of giving into the urge for that behaviour. Remember consequences from past times acting on those urges, and consider whether they would be pros or cons of doing it again. This can also be used to decide between two actions (or more). 

  • Radical Acceptance: The goal of radical acceptance is to accept our feelings, even the negative ones, and not push them down.

  • RESISTT: This skill is meant to help deal with overwhelming emotions. Reframing the situation. Engage in a distracting activity. Someone else. Intense sensations. Shut it out. Think neutral thoughts. Take a break. 

  • Self Soothing

  • STOP: Stop, Take a step back, Observe, Proceed Mindfully

  • TIPPTemperature, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Emotion:

These skills focus on understanding the function of emotions. 

  • ABC: Accumulate positive emotions/experiences by actively doing things we will enjoy (eg. watch a movie, go window shopping), Build mastery in new skills (eg. playing an instrument, doing a puzzle), Cope ahead by planning for events we expect will be difficult (eg. a job interview, an upcoming social event). 

  • Check the facts :This is about examining your feelings in a situation and the facts of that situation, and rationally considering whether your feeling response (and the intensity of it) is reasonable given the facts.

  • Opposite action: Recognize your emotional response to a situation and the action you instinctively wish to take as a reaction to it, and instead do whatever is the opposite of that action (for instance, going out and doing something positive when you feel like staying in and dwelling on something making you sad).

  • PLEASE: treat PhysicaL illness, balance Eating, avoid mood-Alerting drugs, Sleep,  Exercise. 

Interpersonal: 

These skills focus on getting what you need from other people, building healthier relationships and communication styles, and dealing with boundaries and toxic relationships. 

  • DEAR MANDescribe, Express, Assert, Reinforce, stay Mindful, Appear confident, Negotiate 

  • FAST: Be Fair, no Apologies, Stick to values, be Truthful

  • GIVE: be Gentle, act Interested, be Validating, keep an Easy manner