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The Toolbox of DBT Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Help


Tools hanging on a wall in back of work bench

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, more commonly known as DBT, helps people manage emotionally overwhelming feelings while stabilizing their lives and relationships.


DBT, although known predominantly as the treatment of choice for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, has really expanded its reach to help people expanded their emotional regulation.


Challenges with anxiety, depression, PTSD, substance abuse, anger management and relationships issues can all find great support in the tools that DBT has to offer.


DBT works with four main skill building areas:

  1. Emotional Regulation-helps people recognize and manage what they feel. Sometimes we have very strong emotions and reactions to events or people in our lives. Learning to notice and be mindful of any emotions without judgement and learning how to manage them leads to more stability in relationships.

  2. Distress Tolerance-Developing the skill to cope with painful events. Some people grow up learning to tolerate deep and uncomfortable emotions where many others find even the smallest discomfort reason to want to escape or retaliate. Growing this ability allows individuals to begin to deal with suffering in a more mindful and manageable manner.

  3. Mindfulness-Allows us to experience the present moment. Becoming aware of what sensations and emotions are emerging in the moment and allowing them to come forward can help us grow in our ability to accept what is happening vs. trying to fight it. When we can do this we reduce adding reactivity, and thus further pain, in a situation. Learning tools to calm the nervous system when over stimulated allows an individual to show up and be more present in whatever challenges they are facing.

  4. Interpersonal Effectiveness -This allows us to express our beliefs and needs. This is similar to social skill training, which include assertiveness training and listening skills. Relationships can at times be complicated and require attention to maintain health and fluidity. Learning the skills to navigate relationships can be life changing.

DBT therapy is an emotion and skills based therapy treatment that supports many different life challenges. It is a practical form of therapy that steps into the here and now offering a large toolbox of skills to support a deeper and less reactive life.