Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been proven to be highly effective in treating a range of mental health issues. Originally created to treat borderline personality disorder, today it’s also used to help people with bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and even those with traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The skills taught in DBT can help everyone though, regardless of their mental health status. Here are 3 DBT skills patients at the Delray Center learn that everyone could benefit from.
The world we live in today is full of distractions, such as work, family, social media, and more. All of these things can make it hard to be present and live in the moment. Mindfulness, bringing one’s attention to experiences in the present moment, can teach everyone to be aware of their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Mindfulness helps people pause, check-in with themselves, and then make conscious healthy decisions. Everyone has moments when decisions come from emotions from the past or worries about the future. Mindfulness teaches people to be grounded in the present so that rash, reactive decisions don’t happen.
Practicing mindfulness sounds easy in theory, but it can be challenging in practice. To practice DBT skills such as mindfulness, start by doing some activity mindfully, like taking a walk. This means feeling the muscles as you move, paying attention to the sky, and looking at one’s surroundings. The key is to notice what you’re experiencing without getting too upset about it.
We all make judgments every day. However, judgments can often interfere with our emotions and decisions. Judging things as good or bad can have a negative impact and even increase emotional pain. In DBT, participants work to examine a situation without making those sorts of judgments.
Next time you’re angry or upset, pay attention to what judgments you’re making about the situation. For example, instead of thinking “the weather is awful” reframe that thought as, “the rain is upsetting me because now my shoes will get wet.”
It’s important to understand that being less judgmental doesn’t eliminate pain, but it does reduce emotions such as anger, which can be harmful. Everyone can benefit from becoming more aware of their thoughts and feelings.
When painful events happen, it can be hard to accept them as they are. Certain DBT skills focus on helping individuals accept reality, no matter how painful it is, because fighting painful experiences only heightens suffering. While participants in DBT may be struggling with more serious issues, everyone has trouble accepting their situations at some point. This inability to accept reality creates anger, frustration, and other negative emotions.
For example, if you’re in traffic, you may be thinking, “I’m going to be late for work, I have so much to do”. When this happens, remind yourself that “there is nothing I can do, I just have to wait”. Breathe through the tough moments and accept them.
Remember: DBT Skills are not just for individuals with a specific mental health issue like Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT can be beneficial for anyone who sometimes struggles with anxiety, depression, or anger management. The Delray Center offers introductory DBT groups for beginners; to find out more, contact us today.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.