Treatment & Therapy

Bringing DBT Skills out of Treatment and into Everyday Life

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DBT skills lifeIf the challenge of living with the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has become too difficult to face on a daily basis, seeking help at a Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center may be the next step.

At a BPD treatment center, you will learn Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills that will help you to better manage your BPD symptoms. You will learn DBT skills in group sessions and practice them throughout the day, both in individual DBT therapy and with members of your treatment team.

A Borderline Personality Disorder treatment center, however, is not the real world. At a BPD treatment center, particularly a residential BPD treatment center, you are surrounded by others who understand what it is to deal with the anxiety, the fear of abandonment, the shaky relationships, and the nagging feeling that no one “gets” you.

You are guided by trained DBT therapists who are patient and willing to work through your difficulties with you. This may not always be the case when you are in your everyday life.

Using the skills learned in Dialectical Behavior Therapy at a treatment center is quite different than taking these skills with you back into the outside world. So how do you make the transition?

The DBT Skills

The first step may be to realize that, really, the skills of DBT are skills that everyone could be using. Let’s take stock of the four modules of DBT:

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress tolerance
  • Emotion regulation
  • Interpersonal effectiveness

Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone took the time to learn and practice these concepts?

The benefits of living mindfully do not apply to those with Borderline Personality Disorder alone. Being aware of this can, perhaps, blur the lines you may perceive between you and those around you.

Using DBT Skills in Everyday Life

Here are some other things you can do to help you practice and integrate Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills into your everyday life:

Realize the power of the example you are setting. With the skills you now have in your “tool belt,” you can stop a situation that, in your previous experience, may have spun wildly out of control. If a co-worker or loved one is losing patience or experiencing frustration, your remaining calm and present can diffuse whatever it is that is causing the problem. You don’t need to verbalize, or share, your skills. Your energy will speak volumes.

Take several moments for yourself throughout the day. Find time to step away and mentally reconnect with your goals and the steps you have taken to reach them.

Acknowledge that your DBT skills have given you the power to protect yourself without being aggressive or defensive. These positive skills have replaced former trouble-causing go-to defense mechanisms.

Step out of the mental side of your training and pay attention to your physical self. At least once a day, do something physical: take a walk, hit the gym, or practice yoga. This can take the pressure off the language of DBT skills (words like modules, validation, all the acronyms, etc.) that may be swirling through your head and just let the skills sink into your being.

Finally, when looking for a DBT treatment center, find one that offers a continuum of care. If you are entering residential DBT treatment, find a Dialectical Behavior Therapy treatment program that provides a full continuum of care, including day treatment and outpatient DBT treatment.  That way, you can begin incorporating the DBT skills you learn into everyday life while still receiving support.

1 Comment

  1. I like the fact that dbt training can help you to manage your emotions. My son struggles with a lot of mental and emotional challenges. I wonder if dbt training could help him to feel much more confident and at peace.

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