Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a skills-based therapy model developed to improve mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. DBT teaches individuals that they have choices, and asks people to challenge their thoughts; instead of seeing the world in black and white, DBT methods help people understand that things can actually be seen in gray tones, or the “middle path”.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy is based on a set of skills designed to help individuals with mental health issues work through difficult emotions and manage relationships. DBT, although created to help individuals struggling with borderline personality disorder, is now a mainstream form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and can be beneficial for everyone, not only those struggling with mental health.
Countless people find themselves facing inner conflict and emotional distress at different times throughout their lives, which is normal. It is unusual to live stress-free and happy lives all the time. When facing conflict both inner and outer, it is okay and recommended to get help. We have many mental health clinicians trained in different areas and specialties who are ready and available to help people through the challenges they may be facing in life.
In a workshop with over 30 attendees, Lili Bernstein Goralnick, LCSW-R CCTP shared 25 Steps To Emotional Health, a “toolbox” of skills based on DBT methods that can be used whenever you need them. Here are some of the steps:
- Wear a Hoola Hoop: Imagine you are inside of a bulletproof glass vase. It surrounds you and protects you. You may not have control over what goes on outside of the glass, but inside you can control everything. You can change your thought pattern to think better about yourself, and know that only your own opinion about yourself matters.
- Mailbox for G-d: Create a mailbox. At the end of the day, write down everything you can’t control on a piece of paper, and put it in G-d’s mailbox. Say, “Here, this stuff is for You. Only You can handle it.” Let G-d control the things you can’t. You make your focus on the things you can control.
- Change Your Schemas: Everyone has schemas in their heads for everything. It is the way you picture in your head a thing or idea. It is a model you use for how things have meaning to you. When someone says the word ‘conflict’, the way you see it in your head will be tied into the first time you ever had a conflict, or how you understand conflict to be. What DBT teaches is that you can relearn or reframe how you see things or believe things. This includes things that were said about you. If you were told as a child that you can’t learn anything and you are lazy, you may go your whole life believing that. But you can change this is your head and now when you think of yourself, the word lazy will not come to mind at all, since it is no longer associated with how you think of yourself.
- Magic “AND”: Sometimes things feel horrible. You’re tired and you don’t feel like going to the gym. Imagine it’s like black bitter coffee. You can learn to add the ‘AND’, which will lighten the coffee with milk and make it easier to swallow. Say, I’m tired AND I’ll go to the gym. I feel sad AND I will get things done today. You are not pushing away the negative feelings, you are just adding positive feelings to make things less bitter.
- Prophecy: You don’t know what anyone else is thinking. Think of a scenario that makes you anxious, such as going to a party. Now, write down three different outcomes. If you are used to having negative thinking, you may imagine a bad outcome because you assume everything ends negatively. By imagining three different scenarios, you are showing yourself that you really don’t know what will happen. Now, instead of feeling anxious about going to the party, there will be a big question mark where your anxiety used to be. You don’t know what will happen, and that’s okay. That means there is room for something positive to happen.
- THINK: Before you speak, think- is it Thoughtful? Helpful? Important? Necessary? Kind? This is an interpersonal distress tolerance skill used to train yourself to think of other people and imagine how they might react to what you said. You can also use these skills to put yourself in their place and see that the way they are treating you may be due to distress that they are facing in their life that you simply cannot see. It will help you be more kind to others and work on lessening your distress in speaking with others, by thinking before you talk and putting yourself in their place.
These, and more, are helpful skills in dealing with the emotional upheaval that comes with living your life. As Lili put it, “The goal [in life] isn’t to feel safe, but to tolerate feeling unsafe.” You can’t change what will happen to you, but you do get to choose how you react to it. And that is where your control lies.
Call now to meet with an intake specialist and be matched with a licensed clinical mental health professional who can help you. Our center is aptly named “Project Ohr”, because we are here to bring more light into your life.
- Posted by Altie Seigel
- On May 21, 2019