Why DBT Skills Training?
When someone is having suicidal thoughts or self-harming, that is a clear sign that they do not know how to manage their emotions and that they could benefit from DBT skills training. It is also true that emotion dysregulation can be recognized when people develop ineffective coping mechanisms for dealing with emotions. Those ineffective coping mechanisms include things like isolating, over/under eating, lashing out, self-medicating, avoiding, or self-invalidating instead of effectively recognizing and managing the emotions. A goal of DBT is to recognize and manage our emotions effectively so we can ultimately “create a life worth living”.
DBT Skills Training covers four major themes. They are Core Mindfulness Skills, Distress Tolerance Skills, Emotion Regulation Skills and Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills. Core Mindfulness Skills are taught as the foundation to all DBT skills. Mindfulness Skills teach us to “pay attention”. If we are not paying attention to our emotions, our thoughts, our bodies, or what is going on around us it is impossible to effectively choose skills to manage the situation. It often surprises people how little they are paying attention and they realize that is why it feels that their extreme emotions come out of nowhere. Mindfulness Skills are taught throughout all DBT modules.
The first module in DBT Skills Training is Distress Tolerance. Distress Tolerance Skills are skills that are used in a crisis, so we do not act on an urge that will make the situation worse. These skills do not improve our situation they just help us get through the crisis. This module is 8 weeks in length.
The second module is Emotion Regulation Skills. These skills help us to recognize and name our emotions accurately, so we can respond appropriately to what those emotions are telling us. We also learn how to decrease our vulnerability to heightened emotions and we learn how to change unwanted emotions or emotions that do not match the facts of a situation. This module lasts for 9 weeks.
The final module is Interpersonal Effectiveness. In this module we learn how to more effectively communicate our needs while maintaining relationships and our self-respect. We learn how to find friends, get them to like us, and then build communication skills necessary to maintain those relationships. This module lasts for 7 weeks.