BLOG: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills
Author: Fiona Smith, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a skills based therapy founded by Dr. Marsha Linehan that is oriented around the idea of dialectics: the existence of opposites. We can accept where we are, while also acknowledging that we need to change certain things. The dialectical aspect of DBT addresses the integration or synthesis of two opposing points.
One core component of DBT is its effort to educate the participant. DBT believes that participants show greater levels of improvement when they comprehend the mechanisms behind their actions, thoughts, and feelings. The education aspect of DBT puts the power in the participants’ hands and provides a reason for why we are focusing on certain skills. DBT investigates the underlying reality of a situation through a compassionate lens and an understanding that life is complex and ever evolving. It helps us to recognize negative patterns of thinking and unproductive behaviors.
DBT is effective in treating a wide range of life’s stressors. The skills taught within a DBT group or DBT-informed therapy can be applied to various circumstances and help us to deal with overwhelming emotions, unexpected life events, difficult relationships, anxiety, depression, and rocky transitions, and more. Though there is no “one size fits all” method of therapy that works in every scenario, DBT skills are useful to have in our back pockets as we navigate life.
Pulling from ancient spiritual traditions, these techniques help to focus us in the present moment and ground through the body. These skills encourage us to slow down and use our “wise mind.”
These set of skills teach productive and healthy coping mechanisms and self soothing techniques for when we are feeling upset or any intensity of emotion. Crisis survival skills are a key element in this module, as are reality acceptance skills.
This module offers ideas for reducing the intensity of strong emotions and learning to ride the wave instead of reacting or acting out. It helps us to better understand and navigate our feelings.
These skills address relationships and effective ways of ensuring our needs are met. Key elements in this module include self respect and respect of others, effective listening and communication techniques, learning how to deal with challenging individuals, knowing when to say no, and repairing relationships.
Interested in working with a DBT therapist? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.