About DBT

March 18th, 2024
man laying down and looking melancholic.
A little more about DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) – there are 4 categories of skills that it teaches. We will go through all 4 in the coming weeks starting with mindfulness today. Each skill will have an image or video to further explain it. 
“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn
The goals DBT has for us as we work on mindfulness are: reduce suffering and increase happiness; increase control of your mind; experience reality as it is. 
1. Wise Mind – is a balanced, aware perspective that helps in moving forward to goals, and using our innate wisdom. Wise mind is finding a middle path between an emotional mind and a reasonable mind. Emotional mind can be when we find ourselves ruled by our feelings, moods, and urges; dismissing facts and logic; being reactive and impulsive. Reasonable mind is when we find ourselves ruled by facts, reason, and logic; dismissing values and feelings; and seeming cool, rational, and task oriented. And wise mind is when we are using: intuitive thinking; common sense; balance; and wisdom. 

Mindfulness “what” skills: 

2. Observe – notice your body sensations (through your eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue). Pay attention on purpose to the present moment. Practice wordless watching with watching thoughts come into your mind and let them slip right by like clouds in the sky. Notice each feeling, coming and going, like waves in the ocean. Observe both inside and outside yourself. 
3. Describe – put words on the experience like when a feeling or thought arises, or you do something, acknowledge it. Label what you observe; put a name on your feelings. Label a thought as just a thought, a feeling as just a feeling, an action as just an action. Unglue your interpretations and opinions from the facts. Describe the “who, what, when, and where” that you observe. Just the facts. Remember if you can’t observe it through your senses, you can’t describe it. 
4. Participate – throw yourself completely into activities of the current moment. Do not separate yourself from what is going on in the moment (dancing, cleaning, talking to a friend, feeling happy or sad). Become one with whatever you are doing, completely forgetting yourself. Throw your attention to the moment. Act intuitively from Wise Mind. Do just what is needed in each situation – neither willful (unwilling) nor sitting on your hands. Go with the flow – try your best to respond with spontaneity. 

Mindfulness “how” skills: 

5. Non-judgmentally – See, but don’t evaluate as good or bad; just the facts. Accept each moment like a blanket spread out on the lawn accepting both the rain and the sun and each leaf that falls upon it. Acknowledge the difference between the helpful and the harmful, the safe and the dangerous, but don’t judge them. Acknowledge your values, your wishes, your emotional reactions, but don’t judge them. When you find yourself judging, don’t judge your judging. 
6. One-mindfully – pay attention to yourself now. be completely present to this one moment. Try a body scan meditation. Do one thing at a time notice the desire to be half-present, to be somewhere else, to go somewhere else in your mind, to multi-task…and then come back to one thing at a time. Let go of distractions if other actions, thoughts, or strong feelings distract you, go back to what you are doing…again, and again. Concentrate your mind if you find you are doing two things at a once, stop…go back to one thing at a time. 
7. Effectively – be mindful of your goals in the situation and do what is necessary to achieve them. Focus on what works don’t let emotion mind get in the way of being effective. Act as skillfully as you can do what is needed for the situation you are in…not the situation you wish you were in; not the one that is fair; not the one that is more comfortable. Let go of willfulness and sitting on your hands. 
This video is a summary of the mindfulness skills: 
Check back in next time as we continue to work through the DBT skills. 
Written by Katie Walter