The Life Skills Taught By Dialectical Behavior Therapy: An Overview
DBT includes building the following life skills with the following modules.
Mindfulness. This module helps the individual learn techniques to be in the present moment and focus on one thing at a time. Using the principles of Zen Buddhism, the mindfulness life skills training enables the individual to slow down, breathe through their pain and use non-judgment to carefully observe what is happening in their surroundings, describe what they’re feeling and participate more fully in what is occurring. It is not uncommon for the individual DBT therapist or the DBT group therapist to begin a session their clients using a short meditation to help individuals get grounded in what they’re feeling and to observe their thoughts from a more objective place.
Emotional regulation. The emotion regulation life skills training module emphasizes the ability to reduce vulnerability by taking care of one’s mental and physical wellbeing. It redirects the individual to assess what needs are being neglected and what can be done to better build positive experiences and take actions to improve the present moment. This module enables the individual to better manage their emotions especially in times of acute duress.
Distress tolerance. This aspect focuses primarily on self-soothing, especially during in times of crisis, distress or triggering states of emotional arousal. This module encourages radical acceptance, which is a neutral acceptance of the present moment and one’s emotions without necessarily acting on impulses or condoning the harmful actions of others and unjust adverse circumstances.
Interpersonal effectiveness. Since the ability to healthily navigate conflict and social interactions plays such a crucial role in the mental health of particularly vulnerable populations, this module focuses on how we can both validate ourselves and others. It teaches clients how to appropriately set boundaries, see another’s perspective without engaging in black-and-white thinking, all while asserting needs with confidence and mindfulness.