5 DBT Skills That You're Already Using

Have you just started working with a DBT therapist or have you recently joined a DBT Therapy Group? If so, you may be anxious about learning a whole new set of coping skills. The good news is that you are most likely using some DBT skills on a regular basis. You may not even realize that you are applying these skills regularly. It is helpful to review the skills, so that you can be aware of when you’re utilizing them and then use them most effectively. Here is an overview of five DBT skills that you may already be using…

Observe (from the “WHAT” Skills) ­–
This is when you notice your internal (thoughts, feelings, physical sensations) and external experience (though your five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste). You are mindful of your experiences in the moment. You are using this skill when you notice anxiety, physical pain, negative or positive thoughts, as well as your physical surroundings (people, colors, textures). One way to improve your observation skills is to avoid attaching labels or judgments to your observations. Be open to all thoughts and feelings that you notice, without opinions interfering.

One Mindfully (from THE “HOW” Skills) –
One mindfully is about bringing awareness to the present moment by focusing in on one thing or one step at a time. If you feel overwhelmed, you probably use this skill to complete one task at a time. For example, you may focus on one step at a time as you get ready for school or for work. You might also give your full attention to a friend when he or she is talking (instead of looking at your phone). Practicing one mindfully helps you avoid distractions and focus on the present moment.

Contribution (from Wise Mind ACCEPTS) –
One of the C’s in ACCEPTS is contribution. This involves giving to or helping others in some way. You may cook a meal for family, open a door for another person, volunteer for a cause you care about, or cheer up a friend when he or she is having a rough day. You are being altruistic by doing something for someone else.

Self-Soothe –
Self-soothe encourages you to improve your mood through your five senses. You use vision, hearing, smell, taste, and touch to lower your distress and feel more relaxed. There are many ways to self-soothe. You could listen to your favorite song, light a scented candle, use aromatherapy, bundle up in a warm blanket, drink a cup of tea, or draw in a sketchbook.

Brief Vacation (from IMPROVE the Moment) –
Do you ever feel so distressed that you have to leave the environment that’s making you stressed? By briefly removing yourself from an overwhelming environment or activity, you will feel better. Brief vacation reminds us to take a break from our stressors. You can take a brief vacation by going for a walk, stepping away from the computer for a while, watching a funny video, or doing something creative. The goal is to break out of your daily routine and relax.

You may be surprised by how many DBT Skills you already use. It’s beneficial to make use of these skills consistently in order to reap the benefits. While these skills are great, they are only the tip of the iceberg. By working with a DBT therapist or joining a DBT group, you can learn even more DBT Skills to help you cope with life’s challenges. Then, you can employ even more DBT Skills on a daily basis.