DBT Skills

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (‘DBT’) Skills can help us to manage difficult emotions. It is an approach that aims to develop 4 major skills: Mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotional regulation.

DBT skills teach us how we can be more mindful, and encourages us to practise recognising what we’re focussing on. This can include:

  • The present moment
  • Awareness
  • Emotions, thoughts, and sensations
  • Separating emotions and sensations from thoughts

During times of crisis, distress tolerance can be a helpful skill. It can help to get you through rough patches without turning to potentially destructive or harmful coping strategies. These skills may help you to:

  • Distract yourself until you’re calm enough to deal with the situation or emotion
  • Self-soothe by relaxing or using your 5-senses to feel grounded
  • Find ways to improve the present moment despite the difficulty or pain
  • Compare coping strategies by listing pros and cons

Experiencing intense emotions and rapid mood fluctuations can make it hard to relate to others. Knowing what you want is an important part of building and maintaining fulfilling relationships. Interpersonal effectiveness skills combine listening skills, social skills, and assertiveness training; helping you to change situations while remaining true to your values.

Sometimes we may feel like there’s no escape from our emotions, but be assured that they can be managed with a little help. Emotion regulation skills help you learn to deal with primary emotional reactions before they lead to distressing secondary reactions. For example, a primary emotion of anger might lead to shame, guilt, and even depression. Emotion regulation skills teach you to:

  • Recognise emotions
  • Overcome barriers to emotions that have positive effects, and increase these
  • Identify triggers and reduce vulnerability
  • Be more mindful of emotions without judging them
  • Expose yourself to your emotions
  • Avoid giving into emotional urges
  • Solve problems in helpful ways