Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the late 1980s as a means to help better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT is founded on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and blends Eastern mindfulness techniques (e.g., awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences) to encourage acceptance and change. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD. Its efficacy has since expanded to a wide range of other mental health disorders. DBT is a rigidly structured therapeutic approach that is carried out in three distinct therapeutic settings, including weekly individual therapy sessions; weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. This allows participants to engage in individualized and collective treatment to focus on the four modules of DBT, which are: core mindfulness (focusing skills), distress tolerance (crisis survival skills), emotion regulation (de-escalation skills), and interpersonal effectiveness (social/ relationship skills). Each module highlights distinct and specific skills that build upon each other.
DBT relies on supportive resources, including handouts, worksheets, and workbooks to help reinforce the skills taught during group DBT skills training sessions. There are certain DBT training handouts that directly relate to specific topics covered in the different DBT group skills training sessions. As such, there are a variety of DBT handouts that are assigned at different times throughout the program. Supportive resources and publications typically contain an array of DBT activities for adults. If you are on the hunt for DBT activities, consider checking out any of the following suggestions:
- DBT® Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition by Marsha M. Linehan PhD ABPP, 2014, The Guilford Press, New York
- This resource includes over 225 user-friendly worksheets and handouts for individuals learning DBT skills.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, & Distress Tolerance by Matthew McKay, Jeffrey C. Wood, and Jeffrey Brantley, 2007, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland: CA
- This resource provides practical exercises to effectively practice and build on the four key DBT areas (e.g., core mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness).
- The High Conflict Couple: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy Guide to Finding Peace, Intimacy and Validation by Alan E. Fruzzetti, Ph.D., 2006, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland: CA
- This book adapts the various techniques of DBT into applicable skills for de-escalating heightened emotions that can arise in relationships.
- Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control by Scott E. Spradlin, 2003, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland: CA
- This book is comprised of worksheets, exercises, and assessments intended to teach individuals how to pay attention to rising emotions, identify obstacles that interfere with one’s ability to effectively regulate emotions, and how overcome those obstacles.
Through dialectical behavior therapy, clients will learn applicable social and emotional skills, and healthy coping mechanisms, and use mindfulness techniques to effectively cope with stress, live in the moment, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others.
The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, or give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.