DBT Skills

Our Group Therapy seeks to come Alongside You.

While listing every DBT Skill here would be overwhelming, here are the core basic skills in each module. The core mindfulness skills emphasize our ability to be still, breathe, and focus. These skills will help make the use of the other skills in the later modules more effective. The foundation of mindfulness is very important to your success in using the DBT skills and reducing your stress and increasing coping skills.

Just as with anything, it’s important to remember all the skills won’t work all the time. If this happens, harness your Distress Tolerance skills to remove yourself from the situation and practice radical acceptance, do more self-soothing, and distraction skills to help yourself cope and eventually, become mindful and present in your situation.

As with any skill we want to learn (such as musical instruments, sports, etc.), the key to integrating and putting what we learn into practice, is practicing the skills. The more you can practice these skills when you’re not in crisis, the more likely it is that you will use them when you are, and that they’ll be effective. This is also why it’s important to try all the different skills so that you can learn what works for you and what may not, and have an arsenal of skills at your disposal.

Without further ado, here is a summary of basic skills in DBT in each of the modules.



The goal of the mindfulness skills is to be present, without judgement, and without attachment to the moment so that we can operate out of Wise Mind; that is, the synthesis of Rational Mind and Emotional Mind where we can walk the Middle Path, harnessing our wisdom and intuition.

Using the What Skills:

  •   Observe
  •   Describe
  •   Participate

Using the How Skills:

  •   Non-judgmentally
  •   One-mindfully
  •   Effectively


Interpersonal Effectiveness

How to use objectiveness in your request to be effective using DEAR MAN:

  •      Describe the situation in a straightforward way.
  •      Express how you feel, using “I” statements.
  •      Assert yourself by asking for what you need, or saying, “No,” firmly.
  •      Reinforce your request by making sure the other person knows why they should grant it.
  •      Be Mindful and avoid distraction.
  •      Appear Confident regardless of how you feel inside.
  •      Negotiate your position, and remember you’re not demanding, you’re requesting.

Using the GIVE skill to enhance your effectiveness in relationships

  •      Be Gentle
  •      Act Interested
  •      Validate the other person’s emotions.
  •      Use an Easy Manner and remain lighthearted while communicating. Humour is also a good tool.

Using the FAST skill to maintain self-respect and effectiveness with others

  •      Be Fair to yourself and others, and try to see the situation from their perspective.
  •      Apologies need to be appropriate. Avoid over- or under- apologizing. If you did no wrong, there is no need to apologize.
  •      Stick to your values and your opinion. Don’t waffle.
  •      Be Truthful about how you are feeling and don’t lie. Avoid a victim mentality.


Emotion Regulation

Using the PLEASE skills to reduce emotional vulnerability:

  •   Treat Physical Illness
  •   Balanced Eating
  •   Avoid Mood Altering Drugs
  •   Balanced Sleep
  •   Get Exercise


Building Mastery

This skill in DBT works toward building self-esteem through engaging in activities that we can build mastery in. If we can feel competent and effective in other areas and skills, we are less likely to feel helpless and hopeless in the areas that we’re challenged in. If you’ve got skills in music, art, sports, or otherwise – build mastery in these and your self-esteem and confidence will grow, leading to more confidence in the areas you’re struggling.

Building Positive Experiences

The focus of this skill is building positive experiences even in the midst of difficult times. If we build positive experiences, we will build our skills with positive emotions and increase the frequency with which we experience them. Positive experiences are different for everyone – it may be a hot cup of tea, it may be going for a walk along the beach, it may be listening to your favourite album. Be intentional about creating positive experiences for yourself in whatever way makes sense for you – by doing so, you’ll increase your bank of positive emotions to draw from.

Be Mindful of your Current Emotions

This skill builds our emotional awareness. Part of managing emotion is recognizing it. If we aren’t aware of how we’re feeling, we won’t be able to apply the necessary skills to manage the emotions. It can be as simple as taking a moment, practicing a mindfulness skill, and asking ourselves, “How am I feeling right now, in this moment.” We need to ask ourselves this question, without judgement. This helps us accept our own emotions and manage them well.

Using Opposite Action

In DBT, Opposite Action is a skill in which we deliberately act opposite to our emotional urge in an attempt to change problem behaviour. Building on being mindful of our emotion, we ask if our emotion is justified, or if the intensity is justified. If one or both are not justified or helpful, we do the opposite of the emotional urge.


Distress Tolerance

When we’re in crisis, we need skills to manage the current crisis. These are the skills we need in the moment.

Distraction with Wise Mind Accepts

  •   Activities
  •   Contributing
  •   Comparisons
  •   Emotions
  •   Pushing Away
  •   Thoughts
  •   Sensations

Using five of our senses to self-sooth:

  •   Taste
  •   Smell
  •   See
  •   Hear
  •   Touch

Using our skills to IMPROVE the moment:

  •   Imagery
  •   Meaning
  •   Prayer
  •   Relaxation
  •   One thing at a time
  •   Vacation
  •   Encouragement


Using Pros and Cons in DBT

The use of pros and cons in DBT is different from the typical pro/con list in that in DBT it focuses on the pros and the cons of tolerating versus not tolerating distress. The decision is about tolerating emotion versus acting on a plan.

Radical Acceptance

Radical acceptance means to completely accept something (often a situation), fully and completely. It means to give up the fight against something we don’t like, to ease our suffering. As you might imagine, this is easier to describe than it is to practice. Radical Acceptance means accepting the situation, no matter how difficult it is to accept, and moving on. It does not mean letting someone off the hook, agreeing with the situation, or staying angry to protect oneself.

Willingness in DBT

In DBT, willingness means to acknowledge that we are part of, and connected to a greater process and are willing to participate in it. It is when we acknowledge the world for what it is, and agree to participate in it. It is the antidote to willfulness, which is to forget life and refuse to participate in it.

Turning The Mind

Turning the mind is a skill involving repeatedly committing to turn toward, and focus on acceptance. It’s a highly important component of radical acceptance, which as you might imagine, is not a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing process. Through turning the mind, we commit to acceptance, over and over again.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Groups

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Group for Adults

This 24 weeks ongoing (DBT) Groups has been shown to be effective for many struggles people face, but in particular, is highly effective for people struggling with the following:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chaotic relationships
  • Emotional storms
  • Drug or Alcohol misuse
  • Anger management difficulties

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for Youth

A 24 weeks therapy program was designed for youth to manage difficulties.

Youth are at risk of using ineffective and sometimes dangerous coping skills to try to manage cognitive, emotional, and identity difficulties. Research has shown DBT to be particularly effective with anyone struggling with emotional difficulties regardless of their origin. Homework is reviewed at the beginning of each group and then new skills are introduced. Research shows that DBT skills are very successful in reducing life-threatening behaviours such as substance abuse and suicidal actions.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) for Youth and Family

This 21 weeks therapy program was designed for youth and families to manage difficulties such as:

  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Interpersonal dysregulation
  • Behavioural dysregulation
  • Cognitive dysregulation
  • Family conflicts
  • Self dysregulation
  • Mental health struggles such as Anxiety, Depression, Borderline Personality, and suicidal tendencies


If you are interested in working together, take the first step today by sending us an email or giving us a call at (604) 283-­7827!
We will get back to you as soon as we can.