Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Skills
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) skills were established for individuals who deal with distressing emotions and experiences by using unhealthy self-destructive behaviours such as self-harm, substance misuse and eating disorders.
DBT skills are effective and evidence-based strategies which help to support people who experience some of the following difficulties:
- Feel depressed and/or anxious
- Feel out of control
- Experience a chaotic painful life
- Find it difficult to build trust and maintain relationships with others
- Deliberately harm themselves to change the way that they feel
- Frequently feel suicidal
- Feel intense emotional pain and a sense of emptiness
- Feel uncomfortable in a close relationship, or that people are trying to control them
- Cannot cope well when people leave them
- Feel isolated and lonely when in their own company
- Feel moody and irritable a lot of the time.
The overall goal of DBT skills training is to help you increase resilience and build a life experienced as worth living. Self-destructive strategies are paths to even deeper emotional pain in the future.
What to expect from sessions that utilise DBT skills
DBT Skills sessions include mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.
You will learn skills in:
- Managing distressing emotions
- Reduce impulsivity
- Reduce destructive or harmful behaviours
- Improve functioning and communication in interpersonal relationships
- Reduce avoidance behaviour
- Move towards values and goals
Mindfulness has been described as ‘being in the present moment’ and is a skill that has become very popular in recent years as its practice greatly improves our capacity to tolerate painful emotions and physical sensations. Mindfulness has been widely applied and is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, depression, anxiety, eating difficulties, substance misuse and many other conditions.
You will learn how to notice your thoughts and feelings without judgement and how to develop ‘beginner’s mind’. One of the great benefits of mindfulness is that improves your capacity for self-observation and being able to step back from triggering events rather than react impulsively. Your therapist can help you develop a range of ways to practice mindfulness both formally and informally.
Emotional regulation focuses on helping you understand your feelings and responses to triggering events but also on managing them more effectively. This becomes possible through learning ways to both accept and notice painful feelings mindfully but also working towards changing your emotional responses to events through effective action.
Your therapist will help you learn to understand your emotion, understand the functions our feelings have in everyday life and in relationships, learn how to build positive emotions and how to reduce negative feelings through acting opposite to emotions when appropriate.
Distress tolerance teaches you crisis survival skills that you can access when you feel intensely triggered by events in your life. This set of skills is taught as an alternative to engaging in self destructive behaviours in order to manage difficult feelings. Whilst these skills cannot change difficult situations you might find yourself in, they can help you survive despite having negative feelings.
Your therapist will help you learn how to distract yourself, improve the moment, increase your awareness and practice radical acceptance.
Interpersonal effectiveness skills teach you how to be assertive in everyday situations, at work and in close relationships. Some people can find it hard to know when they might be expressing their needs in ways that others find aggressive or hostile. On the other hand, others can find it challenging to express what they need or feel at all. Skills taught include those that help you find a balance between asking for an objective to be met whilst maintaining a good relationship with others and also preserving your self-respect.
Your therapist will help you learn assertiveness skills as well as skills that will help maintain good relationships and become better at negotiating your needs and wants with other people. You will engage in practice of these skills in the group through the use of role play exercises.