top of page
Image by NEOM

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy...

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive-behavioral therapy approach developed to treat individuals with chronic emotional dysregulation. It was influenced heavily by eastern wisdom traditions and Zen Buddhism. Though it is likely that various DBT skills could be useful in all persons, the therapy is designed to be particularly effective for persons diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD).


DBT combines elements of cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, mindfulness, and dialectics to help individuals build skills for managing intense emotions, improving interpersonal relationships, and reducing self-destructive behaviors. It focuses on teaching specific coping techniques such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. By providing practical skills and strategies, DBT helps individuals cultivate a greater sense of control over their emotions and behaviors, leading to improved overall functioning and quality of life.

Continue on below to review the 4  Pillars of DBT and to familiarize yourself more with the therapy and some of its interventions:

Pink Skirt


In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment, focusing on thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise.


Check out a few mindfulness skills below:

1.      Non-judgmental Observation: Observing thoughts, feelings, and experiences without evaluating them as good or bad, right or wrong.
2.      One-Mindfully: Fully focusing on one task or experience at a time, giving it your full attention without distractions.
3.      Participating Fully: Engaging fully in the present moment without holding back or withdrawing, embracing experiences as they come.
4.      Non-verbal Awareness: Paying attention to bodily sensations, such as tension, relaxation, warmth, or discomfort, without attaching judgments or interpretations.
5.      Describing without Judging: Describing thoughts, feelings, and experiences using objective and non-judgmental language, allowing for a clearer understanding of the present moment.

Consider trialing a few of these DBT introductory information videos included below:

Girl with Dogs

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation involves recognizing and managing emotions effectively, learning to identify triggers, and developing skills to modulate emotional responses in a balanced way.

Consider trying a few Emotion Regulation skills below:

1.      Identifying and Labeling Emotions: This involves recognizing and accurately labeling one’s emotions. By identifying specific emotions (e.g., anger, sadness, anxiety), individuals can better understand their internal experiences and respond more effectively.
2.      Opposite Action: This skill encourages individuals to act opposite to their emotional urges when those urges are not effective or appropriate. For instance, if someone feels like withdrawing from others due to sadness, opposite action might involve reaching out and engaging in social activities to counteract the urge to isolate.

3.      Mindfulness of Current Emotion: This skill involves observing and experiencing one’s current emotions without judgment or attempts to suppress them. By practicing mindfulness, individuals can develop greater awareness of their emotional states and learn to tolerate uncomfortable emotions without reacting impulsively.
4.      Emotion Regulation Strategies: DBT includes various techniques for regulating emotions, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and distraction techniques. These strategies help individuals soothe intense emotions and create a sense of calmness and stability.
5.      Building Positive Experiences: This skill focuses on intentionally engaging in activities or experiences that elicit positive emotions. By actively seeking out enjoyable and rewarding experiences, individuals can enhance their mood and build resilience against negative emotions. This might include hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or practicing self-care activities.

Stressed Woman

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance in DBT refers to the ability to withstand and accept intense emotions without resorting to harmful behaviors, instead using healthy coping strategies to navigate difficult situations.

Consider trying out a few Distress Tolerance skills below:

1.      Distraction: This skill involves temporarily shifting attention away from the distressing situation or emotions to something neutral or positive. Distraction techniques can include activities such as watching a movie, listening to music, going for a walk, or engaging in a hobby. By redirecting focus, individuals can create space from intense emotions and gain perspective.
2.      Self-Soothing: Self-soothing techniques aim to comfort and calm oneself during moments of distress. This may involve activities that engage the senses, such as taking a warm bath, drinking a soothing cup of tea, using aromatherapy, or cuddling with a pet. Self-soothing helps individuals regulate their emotions and create a sense of safety and relaxation.
3.      Improving the Moment: This skill focuses on finding ways to make the current moment more tolerable, even in the midst of distress. Examples include using humor, finding something to be grateful for, engaging in positive self-talk, or focusing on small accomplishments. Improving the moment helps individuals shift their perspective and cultivate resilience in challenging situations.
4.      ACCEPTS: ACCEPTS is an acronym for activities that can help individuals tolerate distress without making it worse. It stands for Activities, Contributing, Comparisons, Emotions, Pushing Away, Thoughts, and Sensations. Each component offers different strategies for managing distress, such as engaging in activities that distract from the distressing situation, contributing to others, or comparing the current situation to less distressing times.
5.      Wise Mind ACCEPTS: This skill combines distress tolerance techniques with mindfulness to help individuals navigate intense emotions more effectively. It encourages individuals to access their “wise mind,” which integrates logical thinking with emotional awareness. Wise Mind ACCEPTS strategies include focusing on the present moment, using imagery to soothe oneself, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and self-care.

Couple Hugging

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Emotion regulation involves recognizing and managing emotions effectively, learning to identify triggers, and developing skills to modulate emotional responses in a balanced way.

Check out a few Emotion Regulation skills below:

1.      DEAR MAN: DEAR MAN is an acronym that outlines strategies for effectively communicating needs and setting boundaries in interpersonal interactions. It stands for Describe, Express, Assert, Reinforce, Stay Mindful, Appear Confident, and Negotiate. By using DEAR MAN, individuals can assertively express their needs while maintaining respect for themselves and others.
2.      FAST: FAST is another acronym that emphasizes maintaining self-respect and boundaries in relationships. It stands for Fair, No Apologies, Stick to Values, and Truthful. By practicing FAST, individuals can ensure that their interactions with others are grounded in honesty, integrity, and self-respect.
3.      GIVE: GIVE is an acronym for strategies to maintain positive relationships and reduce conflict. It stands for Gentle, Interested, Validate, and Easy Manner. By practicing GIVE, individuals can approach interactions with empathy, validation, and a willingness to compromise, fostering healthier and more effective communication.
4.      Objective Effectiveness: Objective effectiveness focuses on achieving one’s goals in interpersonal interactions while maintaining self-respect and positive relationships. This skill involves considering the priorities of both parties, being clear and direct in communication, and finding mutually beneficial solutions to conflicts or disagreements.
5.      Relationship Effectiveness: Relationship effectiveness emphasizes building and maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships over the long term. This involves balancing priorities, setting boundaries, practicing empathy and active listening, and investing time and effort into nurturing meaningful connections with others. By prioritizing relationship effectiveness, individuals can cultivate deeper and more satisfying interpersonal connections.

Zen Buddha Decor

DBT Self Help

This site is definitely worth checking out to familiarize yourself with if you are interested in learning more about DBT:

Japanese Garden

Know of a Great Resource?

Reach us at to share your DBT resource with out survivor community!

"If you practice being aware - completely open to the universe, just exactly as it is - you will transform your life in time.”

 -Marsha M. Lineham PhD, Creator of DBT

Flowers and Shadows

This website makes no effort to support or advocate for any specific dogma, spiritual path, orientation, political or social agenda. We are not a source for legal advice.

The information shared on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice offered by healthcare professionals and physicians. If users have any personal questions regarding health, psychiatric, or psychological concerns, they are encouraged to contact a qualified health care provider for advice. All personal questions of the aforementioned nature posed to I THRIVE will be deferred.

bottom of page