A few weeks ago, we posted a blog on CBT, a type of treatment that promotes the changing of a persons’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It is a method that has continually shown to help those looking to reduce their anxiety. Today, we want to take a look into a branch of CBT known as Dialectical Behavior Therapy. DBT skills are important as they tend to help supplement the things CBT doesn’t help with. Most importantly, its ability to help a person accept their current circumstances and make changes accordingly.

Sure, that sounds great and all. But you may be wondering how DBT can help you with depression and anxiety. Continue reading to learn more!

The History of DBT

Dr. Marsha Linehan was the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. She developed this therapy method through her work with women who had attempted suicide or self-harm. She initially treated these women with CBT but noticed it wasn’t fully effective. This therapy puts a huge emphasis on changing thoughts and behavior. And while that is a great skill, that kind of thinking did not help Dr. Linehan’s patients find acceptance. Unfortunately, even with months of therapy, her patients were still finding their own thoughts and behaviors as “wrong”. And because of it, hindered the growth of their ability to change.

DBT Skills: Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness

DBT skills include tools such as mindfulness and distress tolerance. These techniques aid in finding “acceptance” during a present “less than ideal” moment. These distress tolerance and mindfulness skills range and vary in nature. They can include mindfulness exercises (like Come to Your Senses and adult coloring books), breathing exercises (including breathing GIFs), and even using cold/heat! The goal is to let go of past/future worry and bring the mind to the present by checking facts and not giving into immediate reactions.

The main goal of DBT is to change the emotion you are feeling. In order to do that, we have to detect where these emotions are coming from. Not to mention, begin to explore the patterns of why they come up. (Yes, triggers are a real thing). And while it can feel completely unnatural, many patients find peace in the “judgment-free zone” it creates. DBT skills allow you to simply observe the emotional experiences you are feeling without any connotation.

DBT Skills Vs. Depression and Anxiety

Emotions act as important checkpoints in our daily lives. They act to tell us information that we may otherwise not receive. Think back to your ancestors. Their primary emotions of happiness, fear, and sadness helped them make appropriate decisions for survival. In today’s world, those same intense emotions can seem to pop up for no apparent reason (aka a lion isn’t hunting you). This rush of onset emotion and thought can be difficult to deal with on your own.

DBT works through a process of learning emotional and cognitive skills. After practicing them on their own, they can then be applied to those instances of intense emotion. DBT does its best to tackle difficult emotions. It allows you the ability to better control the emotions you have when you have them. It can also help you be more present in your reactions and how you express them.

Let Us Help You!

The best part about DBT skills is that they can be useful for anyone. This even includes when you feel you are doing well. DBT teaches healthy life skills that can be used years into the future. If you are interested in DBT, Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how we can help you learn DBT skills to fight depression and anxiety!


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.