How DBT Techniques Can be Worked into Everyday Life for Everyone

DBT or Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a highly effective form of cognitive behavioural therapy. Originally created to treat the condition known as a borderline personality disorder. In this day and age it's used to treat a great many varied conditions, for example, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and depression. DBT teaches skills to clients four different sets of behavioural skills, these are mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness as well as emotion regulation.

Whether you have a mental illness or not you can be sure to benefit from learning these skills and moving it into your life. Below, psychotherapist Sheri van Dijk, MSW, RSW shared three DBT skills that can assist you in managing your emotions and leading a healthier and happier life. Van Dijk is also the author who wrote a great many books on the subject matter.


According to Van Dijk mindfulness means you should be living your life more in the present moment and instead of allowing yourself to be hijacked by the past or the future.’. This is done by practising mindfulness - in doing so we become aware of our thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions. It gives us the opportunity to pause, check-in, identify our emotions and consciously make the best and healthiest decisions for us.

In order to practice this skill, it's recommended that you go for a walk mindfully. Feel your body as it walks and notices how it just instinctively knows what it needs to do to move each and every individual muscle to achieve the goal of taking step after step. Pay attention to things you can see - be it the colour of the sky, the trees you are passing and what the houses look like.

If you find your mind wanders, redirect it to a present moment be it an external experience of what's going on around you. OT you might refocus on your internal experience, be it your breath your pulse, emotions and physical sensations. Here is the key is to notice what you are experiencing without getting caught up in it all.

If you are entangled in your thoughts try and take the stance of instead of being: ‘Jamie is so nice, she is a great person, I really want to get to know her better.’ take a line of ‘there is the Jamie is nice thought again.’ 

Reality Acceptance

This skill hones in on accepting our daily experiences and working to accept the more painful events that have happened, as fighting the true reality only intensifies suffering. If you are sitting in a meeting, hopelessly bored, rather than telling yourself “I have so much to do, I’m wasting my time here!”. Just take time to take a breath and just say “It is what it is. It won’t last forever, I just have to sit through it.

Non Judgemental Stance

Rather than judging things to be good or bad, notice when you do it. Negative judgements can intensify our emotional pain. So, when you’re angry or upset take notice of the judgement you are making and then focus on replacing the judgement with an objective fat with no emotions attached. Instead of saying “you’re a bad friend!” You can say “There’s been a few times now where you have cancelled plans, only to hang out with someone else. I feel upset about this.”

Being less judgemental does not eliminate pain, but it does help us to reduce emotions like anger. In doing so we are able to think more clearly and open up choices for us as to how we respond emotionally.