DBT Skills - How do they actually apply in real life?

Bridging Hope Counseling is known for our DBT skills groups. We run a lot of them and love it. We don't even think about DBT because it's what we know. However, to many people, it's just some letters put together. It could be useful to share a little more about how DBT is in real life, not just in therapy.

Basics and history - DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and it was developed by Marsha M. Linehan to treat people with severe emotional struggles. The research behind DBT was based on working with the most difficult type of mood struggles and self-injury. Over time, it was  found these skills to be beneficial for all kinds of struggles.  We have seen both adults and teens use them to feel more centered and sure of themselves.

The four modules of DBT are: mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.  We also do another module called "middle path". Learning and refining skills for changing behavioral, emotional and thinking patterns associated with problems in living or that cause negative consequences, distress or misery.

How they apply in real life is somewhat like this: stress shows up and you have an urge that isn't healthy. By learning mindfulness skills, you have the ability to slow down and see the "urge" and can input a skill instead. By using a skill, instead of an urge, you get a different, more effective outcome. Here are a couple examples:

  • Your kids don't listen when you ask them to clean up. Three more times they ignore you and you want to SCREAM at the top of your lungs. The urge is to scream. Instead, you use mindfulness, moment to pause, then body scan, then wise mind. You take a turtling break in the bathroom and come back with less of an urge and proceed to start cleaning up and singing to clean up. The kids laugh and then join you in the clean up. Better outcome even though it was still tough.
  • A driver pulls right in front of you and you have to swerve. You have an urge to scream and give them a piece of your mind. Instead you use gratitude that you have a car and get to drive.  You smile, and think of all the ways you have been blessed. 

Skills at their best! Shifting a tough moment into a less tough one and in some cases, into an even better situation. Often, with a few key skills, life can work much better.. The group is long (6 months) allowing the processing and practice that the research says makes it work. We hope it is useful to hear a few stories and example about how DBT could be effective.  Feel free to call 763-291-5505 with any questions about DBT or upcoming groups. You can also check out our DBT Skills Groups on the website.