​​what skills does dialectical behavior therapy develop?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that was originally developed to help individuals with borderline personality disorder who struggle with self-harm and suicidal ideation. While it remains the gold standard for these concerns, it has also been shown to be effective for a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, trauma and substance abuse.

At Choice House, we integrate DBT into our treatment programs to help our clients build the skills they need to improve their mental health and stay sober. This treatment method is all about finding balance between acceptance and change. We use this concept to help men better manage their emotions, build stronger relationships and live a more fulfilling life.

Because by acknowledging and accepting ourselves and our experiences while working towards change and growth, we can achieve a greater sense of balance and harmony in everything we do.

how does DBT work?

DBT is a structured mental health treatment that typically consists of individual and group therapy sessions. It is based on the concept of the dialectic, which refers to the importance of balancing two opposing forces or ideas. In this case, at the core of DBT is bringing together the seemingly contradictory forces of acceptance and change.

DBT is designed to help individuals learn to accept themselves and their experiences while also recognizing the need for change. For example, let’s say we struggle with intense emotions like anger or anxiety. Acceptance means acknowledging and accepting these emotions as a part of ourselves. It’s OK to feel angry or anxious sometimes, and we don’t have to judge ourselves for it. However, we also need to work towards changing the way we react to these emotions. This might involve learning new coping strategies to manage our emotions in a healthier way or developing improved communication skills.

Although it can seem counterintuitive, acceptance and change can exist simultaneously without canceling each other out. By learning to recognize that, we can shift our mindset from thinking about acceptance or change as polar opposites, to knowing that both acceptance and change are necessary for our growth and well-being.

what skills does DBT help develop?

DBT is structured around four key modules, each of which focuses on a different set of skills: mindfulness, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance. Throughout treatment, these skills help individuals manage their emotions, build positive relationships and develop healthy coping mechanisms for a more fulfilling life.


One of the key skills that DBT helps develop is mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of the current moment without judgment. DBT teaches us to develop a deeper understanding of our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations with techniques such as breathing exercises, meditation and self-acceptance.

By increasing our awareness of these experiences, we can learn to respond to them in a more skillful and intentional way, rather than reacting impulsively or automatically. As a result, it becomes easier to manage difficult or intense emotions. Mindfulness has also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms and improve overall well-being.

emotional regulation

DBT also helps develop emotional regulation skills. Emotional regulation refers to the ability to identify and regulate intense emotions, such as fear, anger, anxiety or sadness. DBT teaches us to identify and label these emotions while also recognizing the triggers that cause them and developing new coping strategies and problem-solving skills.

DBT also teaches us how to tolerate distressing emotions without resorting to harmful behaviors. By learning to regulate our emotions, we can reduce the risk of using drugs or alcohol to cope, which ultimately does more harm than good.

interpersonal effectiveness

Another skill that DBT teaches is interpersonal effectiveness, which helps us develop and maintain healthier relationships. It demonstrates how to express our needs, wants and boundaries in a clear and assertive manner. It also helps us to learn how to actively listen to others, how to resolve conflict and how to navigate social situations.

By building interpersonal effectiveness skills, we’re better equipped to build positive relationships with others for greater satisfaction and happiness in life. It can also reduce the risk of engaging in negative behaviors such as self-harm or substance abuse, which may have been used in the past to cope with difficult emotions or social situations.

distress tolerance

Finally, DBT helps us develop improved distress tolerance, which refers to our ability to cope with distressing situations without falling back on harmful or destructive behaviors. Some of the specific skills learned include self-soothing, relaxation and distraction techniques.

Distress tolerance is a crucial aspect of DBT, as some people have more difficulty in managing challenging emotions. To cope, they may lash out or turn to drugs and alcohol. By improving our distress tolerance skills, we give ourselves a chance to build healthier habits instead. It’s important to note that distress tolerance doesn’t mean ignoring or suppressing emotions — instead, it involves acknowledging and accepting them while changing the way we respond with improved coping strategies that promote our well-being.

seeing both sides of the coin

One of the key concepts in DBT is the importance of seeing “both sides of the coin.” This concept emphasizes the need to understand and accept opposing viewpoints, even when they seem contradictory or difficult to reconcile. By recognizing that multiple perspectives can exist simultaneously, we can develop a more nuanced and balanced understanding of our emotions, behaviors and relationships.

DBT helps cultivate this skill by teaching us how to identify and validate different perspectives, as well as how to synthesize seemingly opposing ideas into a cohesive whole. By learning how to see both sides of the coin, we can improve our communication skills, reduce conflict in our lives and better understand our own thoughts and feelings.

DBT is an evidence-based therapy that helps men from all walks of life develop a range of skills for staying sober and improving their mental wellness. At Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, we utilize DBT to help our clients balance acceptance and change for a more fulfilling life. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, get in touch to learn more about our treatment programs and the methods we use. You can contact our admissions team by clicking here or calling 303-578-4982. You can also email us at hello@choicehouse.com.

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