Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is designed to help you change patterns of behavior that are not helpful such as self-harm, suicidal thoughts, or substance abuse and addictions. DBT can be useful in treating traumatic brain injuries (TBI), eating disorders,  mood disorders, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and more.

I personally love these skills and wish they were taught in every High School in the world.  These skills are like receiving a User’s Manual for our emotions, and wouldn’t that be nice? DBT skills help us modulate our emotions in a manner we can tolerate, and that allows us to interact with the world and other people so much more skillfully.

DBT was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, originally for people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). However, these skills are good for so much more than BPD!

There are four major skill areas that are the basis of DBT Skills.

1) Mindfulness Skills are actually based on some principles of Buddhism, and especially meditation.  Learning how to be completely in this moment, be less judgmental, and finding detachment are key skills in tolerating what is going on in our lives.

2) Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills teach strategic methods for having “courageous conversations.”  Some assertiveness skills are combined with a fabulous technique for discerning whether it is appropriate and timely to refuse another’s request, or to ask someone for assistance.

3) Emotion Regulation Skills identify that your emotions are less like a light switch (either on or off), and more like a dimmer switch (a wide range from full bore to a tiny trickle).  How much more in control of your life and your relationships would you be if you knew how to put your own hand on your emotion dial and turn the intensity up or down?

4) Distress Tolerance Skills include some very heavy-hitting skills that help you when times get tough.  Sometimes “life happens” and despite the best skills that you may have, you can be swamped with difficult emotions.  When this occurs, the Distress Tolerance Skills can come into play to help you cope with and surmount your difficulties.

I like to teach DBT Skills in a way where they are not just dry and dusty skills that don’t pertain to your life, but in a way that makes sense to you.  I like to understand what is going on with you at work, in your relationships, and in other aspects of your life so that you have clarity about how to use these skills in your daily life.  You will be surprised at how easily you begin to integrate these skills into your life in a way that enhances your relationships and especially how you feel about yourself.

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Want to know more about DBT? Here is some information from, one of the leading websites about DBT.

How effective is DBT?

Research has shown DBT to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, non-suicidal self-injury, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance use, anger, and depression and improving social and global functioning. For a review of the research on DBT, click here. In this video, DBT Developer and Behavioral Tech founder Dr. Marsha Linehan describes the amazing changes she’s seen in people who have received DBT and gotten out of hell.

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Here is some additional information from

Characteristics of DBT

  • Support-oriented: It helps a person identify their strengths and builds on them so that the person can feel better about him/herself and their life.
  • Cognitive-based: DBT helps identify thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder: “I have to be perfect at everything.” “If I get angry, I’m a terrible person” & helps people to learn different ways of thinking that will make life more bearable: “I don’t need to be perfect at things for people to care about me”, “Everyone gets angry, it’s a normal emotion.
  • Collaborative: It requires constant attention to relationships between clients and staff. In DBT people are encouraged to work out problems in their relationships with their therapist and the therapists to do the same with them. DBT asks people to complete homework assignments, to role-play new ways of interacting with others, and to practice skills such as soothing yourself when upset. The individual therapist helps the person to learn, apply and master the DBT skills.

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