Exploring the Different Types of DBT Skills

Exploring the Different Types of DBT Skills: Building Resilience and Emotional Well-being

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive therapeutic approach developed by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. It was initially designed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) but has since been applied to various mental health conditions. DBT incorporates several skills that focus on emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness. In this article, we will delve into the different types of DBT skills for anxiety and their significance in building resilience and emotional well-being.

Emotional Regulation Skills

Emotional regulation skills are essential for individuals struggling with intense emotions. DBT skills for adolescents teaches individuals how to identify, understand, and effectively manage their emotions. These skills include:

  1. a) Emotion Awareness: Developing the ability to recognize and label emotions accurately.
  2. b) Opposite Action: Encouraging individuals to act in a way that is opposite to the emotion they are experiencing.
  3. c) Self-Soothing: Learning techniques to calm oneself during times of distress, such as breathing exercises or engaging in activities that bring comfort.

Distress Tolerance Skills

Distress tolerance skills are particularly helpful during moments of crisis or intense emotional pain. These skills aim to increase an individual’s ability to tolerate distress without resorting to harmful behaviors. Key distress tolerance skills include:

  1. a) Radical Acceptance: Acknowledging and accepting reality as it is, even if it is difficult or painful.
  2. b) Distracting Activities: Engaging in activities that divert attention away from distressing thoughts or situations.
  3. c) Self-Soothing with the Senses: Utilizing the five senses to create a soothing and calming experience, such as taking a warm bath or listening to calming music.

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills

Interpersonal effectiveness skills focus on improving communication and building healthier relationships. These skills can be useful in managing conflicts and setting boundaries. Some key interpersonal effectiveness skills include:

  1. a) DEAR MAN: An acronym that stands for Describe, Express, Assert, Reinforce, Mindful, Appear confident, and Negotiate. It provides a framework for effectively communicating needs and desires.
  2. b) GIVE: An acronym that stands for Gentle, Interested, Validate, and Easy Manner. This skill emphasizes being respectful and attentive during interactions.
  3. c) FAST: An acronym that stands for Fair, Apologies, Stick to values, and Truthful. It helps individuals maintain self-respect and integrity while dealing with interpersonal challenges.

Mindfulness Skills

Mindfulness skills play a central role in DBT. They involve paying attention to the present moment without judgment, which can help individuals cultivate a sense of calmness and increase self-awareness. Key mindfulness skills include:

  1. a) Non-judgmental Stance: Practicing observing thoughts, emotions, and experiences without labelling them as good or bad.
  2. b) Wise Mind: Integrating emotional and rational thinking to make balanced and wise decisions.
  3. c) Mindful Breathing: Focusing on the breath to anchor oneself in the present moment.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) equips individuals with a range of skills to navigate the challenges of life, regulate emotions, and build healthier relationships. The four main types of DBT skills—emotional regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness—work together to foster resilience and emotional well-being. By integrating these skills into their daily lives, individuals can develop effective coping mechanisms, manage distressing situations, enhance their relationships, and achieve a greater sense of self-control and fulfilment.

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Marco Jones