DBT will teach the patient different skill sets and techniques that they can employ on a daily basis in order to live a happier, healthier life even in the midst of certain situations or adversities.
One of the most useful techniques is mindfulness, also referred to as core mindfulness. According to Van Dijk, mindfulness means “living your life more in the present moment, instead of allowing yourself to be hijacked by the past and the future.” By living in the moment, you regulate your thinking only on what you are currently feeling internally and you pay attention only to what is going on around you also. Focusing on yourself in the present will allow you to disperse negative thoughts about the past or anxious feelings towards the future. The most important factor here is that the patient can recognise and accept the feelings that are arising, but without getting caught up or consumed by them. Reverting back to the present, whether it be focusing on an external sight, sound or smell will help to retain a level of calm in the present and regather composure.
In a very similar way to the mindfulness element, distress tolerance is a key skill in DBT that will help to teach patients how to manage distress in a constructive way. The first level of this strategy is acceptance, following the assertion that “If there is nothing I can do about it, then I needn’t get angry”. The individual can learn distress tolerance methods such as distraction and focusing on improving the moment in order to deal with the distress.
DBT skills focus on accepting and managing your emotions, so emotional regulation can be a key method. In recognising and understanding certain emotions, the patient can start to process the feelings without becoming too overwhelmed. The understanding of the emotions will also help with emotional intelligence and lead to better relationships with others. This is also known as interpersonal effectiveness.