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The 3 DBT Skills You Need Now!

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) is an extensive psychological treatment modality that you could spend years learning & perfecting. But if you don't want to spend that much time (and $$$), & you want the most essentials skills- here they are!

These are the skills our clients find the most helpful for:

- panic attacks

- times of intense anxiety

- high distress

- binge eating

- problematic substance use

- urges to engage in any behaviours you're trying to change

Sound good? Here are our top 3 skills:

  1. The Distress Tolerance Curve: The distress tolerance curve is a key concept in DBT that explains how & why we experience distress. By learning this concept, you'll be able to:

- Understand how your emotions operate over time

- The role of avoidance behaviours (that work in the short-term but make things worse in the long-term)

- How a powerful, but false belief that our brain tells us that makes it feel impossible to change behaviours

- Where & when you need to intervene to make long-lasting change & get through distress without making things worse- hurray!!!

For training in the Distress Curve, check out our DBT 101 online program

2. Skills that Change Body Chemistry (TIP/ DIPP Skills): Wouldn't it be great if there was something you could do to quickly get your body to calm down when highly anxious, panicked or distressed?

Well there is!!! There are 4 physical activities you can do that have been scientifically proven to turn OFF our fight/ flight response (sympathetic nervous system) & turn ON our relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system).

These skills are game changers!!! They are the one of the first things we teach clients in therapy & they are always a favourite.

These skills are:

T= Tipping facial temperature (eg. cooling the face with cold water & inducing the 'dive' reflex)

I= Intense exercise

P= Paced breathing (NOT deep breathing, which will make you feel worse)

P= Paired muscle relaxation

You can use these skills when: - Experiencing an anxiety or panic attack

- Feeling overwhelmed by distress

- You need to get things done but feel overwhelmed by emotions

- You're having urges to engage in a behaviour you are trying to stop/ reduce

For more info about these skills, check out our ebook, 'How to Survive an Emotional Crisis' or try our DBT 101 training program

3. Distraction Skills (ACCEPTS): You probably already have skills you use to distract yourself at times, but to get through times of intense distress, you may need more!

These skills give you a plan for what to do when distress hits- & the more you use them, the more you build your resilience to future distress!

Distraction skills include:

A= Activities- doing something!

C= Contribution- turning focus to others

C= Comparison- getting perspective

E= Emotions- music, media etc that create desirable emotions

P= Pushing Away- imagery exercise to delaying worries

T= Thoughts- puzzles, books etc that distract thoughts

S= Sensations- creating strong physical sensations as distraction, that are not harmful

To learn how to use all these skills, check out our DBT 101 online course !

Developed by Alex Wilson (Accredited Mental Health Social Worker & DBT guru), this program gives you access to detailed written guides & instructional videos so you can start using these skills right away. Just $125 for the full program (less than the cost of 1 standard therapy session!)

It's important to know you don't have to suffer with intense anxiety, panic or distress... there are proven clinical strategies to give you relief & give you control of your life back:)

Wishing you all the best mental health!!!!

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