DBT Distress Tolerance Skills

The quality of our life can be measured to no small extent by the quality of our relationships with ourselves and others. Gaining the ability to regulate emotions in order to improve those relationships by employing DBT Distress Tolerance Skills is vital.

About Dialectics

The “D” in DBT stands for “dialectics”. Dialectics is how we synthesize acceptance and change. It’s the art of reconciling two seemingly contradictory opinions or positions, recognising the truth inherent in each position and reaching a synthesis that enables us to transcend the limitations inherent in the either/or mindset.

An effective exercise of dialectics allows people to move forward together in harmony, which is particularly important for people racked by powerful emotions, who typically espouse immovable opinions or who are prone to spouting extreme opinions. By applying dialectical skills to interactions with such individuals the therapist is able to validate their positions and achieve a degree of trust that might otherwise be out of reach.

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About Behaviour Therapy

The “B” in DBT stands for “behaviour” and refers to the process of assessing the setup as well as the result of particular problem behaviours in order to reveal their cause and purpose so that effective change can be devised and implemented.  

This type of approach to treatment is essential if a client manifests numerous problem behaviours. It provides an actionable framework for understanding those behaviours, and ultimately, a way to replace unproductive or counterproductive behaviour with behaviour that adds value to the person’s life.

This type of behaviour therapy focuses on dissecting and comprehending the observable, as opposed to applying various theoretical frameworks to the client’s situation. The DBT therapist is a keen observer of the client’s behaviour, tracking it in a systematic way that enables a comprehensive understanding of both causes and results. As a result, this type of therapy is fluid, changing direction as new observations yield additional information.

The Ultimate Aim of DBT Distress Tolerance Skills

The aim of DBT is to teach the client how to better regulate their emotion, how to recognise and mitigate problem behaviours and how to more effectively maintain healthy, productive relationships. The DBT course consists of four core modules:

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Emotional Regulation

Emotions can often overwhelm us and spiral out of control. DBT enables the client to develop skills that will allow them to rein in their emotions and prevent them from producing counterproductive outcomes. Ultimately DBT will allow the client to get off the emotional roller coaster and obtain a measure of control they previously lacked.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

People often feel that their needs are not being met by others and this causes them to lash out or shut down. Or they may feel that they constantly wind up agreeing to things they wind up regretting. The interpersonal module helps clients learn how to ask for what they need and how to set all-important boundaries by learning the right times and the right way to say “no”.

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Mindfulness

Mindfulness entails being intensely aware of both sensory input and emotional output in a given moment, and doing so by attempting to interpret that information or applying judgment to it. The mindfulness skills the client learns will allow them to stay in the moment instead of being carried away on a wave of feelings.

Distress Tolerance

Many people are susceptible to being emotionally “triggered” by other people, circumstances or even specific words or terminology. The resulting emotional dysregulation is hardly ever helpful nor does it lead to any type of productive endpoint. Distress tolerance training enables the client to neutralise their reactive tendencies by effectively managing emotional extremes.

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Navigating a Crisis Using DBT Skills

A great example of DBT Distress Tolerance Skills in action is the ACCEPTS acronym. The individual letters of the acronym stand for the different ways of creating effective distractions that will help restore a situation to its proper equilibrium:

A = Activities: DBT Distress Tolerance Activities are a simple form of distraction that can restore emotional order, whether it’s cleaning the kitchen or watching your favourite streaming show.

C = Contributing: Contributing on a societal or personal level to promote a cause or help a friend is another productive distraction.

C = Comparisons: If the person finds themselves emotionally distraught, comparing their current feelings to how they felt at a different time can yield a useful comparison.

E = Emotions: Instead of letting emotions run wild, channel them through an activity such as reading an emotional book or watching an emotional movie.

P = Pushing away: This entails simply shutting off the vexing situation for a moment. Back out of the conversation, go to the restroom or block out painful memories.

T = Thoughts: Neutralise emotions by engaging your mind. Count something, sing your favourite song, watch a video on a favourite topic.

S = Sensations: Physical sensations can be a very effective distraction. So take a cold shower or go sit in the sun for a few minutes.

Contact DBT London

If you have any questions regarding the course or want to book your space, please do get in touch.

Tallie Samuels
Tallie Samuels
2021-08-10
I completed all four modules of the DBT course in 2020, and I can honestly say my life has been changed. I received so much support from Jason & Jerinda throughout my sessions, and I always felt like I was in a safe space with them. Throughout the course, I built up skills that I am still using today. I now find everyday life easier to manage; feel more in control of my emotional responses; am able to to tap into 'wise mind' rather than thinking in black & white; and I have a number of coping skills that make emotional crises easier to manage, when they do happen. This is the best course of therapy I have ever completed, and I have tried many different kinds in my lifetime. Thanks to the skills I learnt on the course, and to my own hard work integrating them into my life, I now live a life that feels worth living. Thank you.
Samantha Tran-Larkin
Samantha Tran-Larkin
2019-11-26
I have completed 2 modules of the DBT programme so far and I can honestly say it has honestly changed my life. I am not a stranger to therapy. 2 years ago I started general psychotherapy following the birth of my 4th child as I developed what I thought was PND. I also had a volatile relationship. Because of my personal circumstances, things progressively got worse. When I started the DBT programme I was lost, angry, hopeless and saw this as my last chance to solve some crisis of mine. 2 modules in, I feel refreshed and optimistic. I understand myself more and get boundaries. I am more productive and for the first time in a long while I can actually say I am happy. I will most likely revisit certain modules for a little refresh and will continue to use my invaluable DBT skills everyday. Thank you Jason.
Sevda Sipahi
Sevda Sipahi
2019-10-01
I was feeling insecure, anxious and depressed. I have joined the DBT sessions. I found it so helpful and effective. Before DBT, l wasn’t aware of the skills. Jason and Jurenda are such amazing people with their knowledge and positivity. They were so supportive. They taught me the skills and motivated me a lot to use the skills. Gradually l felt l improved myself quite a lot and definitely l feel much better now than before. It also improved my self confidence. I am more aware of myself now than before. I learnt to be in wise mind rather than being too emotional or too rational. I want to thank Jason and Jurenda for their good work, support and kindness.
Jess
Jess
2018-03-08
I've been working on my DBT skills with Jason for the past 9 months. In that time I have learnt enough repair damaged relationships with family, to begin to curb my unhealthy 'problem behaviours' and to start to build back up my self esteem and work on treating myself with kindness and compassion. I would thoroughly recommend DBT therapy, I think we all have a lot to learn from it. Without it and without Jason I wouldn't be where I am right now - I'm very grateful.
Samuel Perry
Samuel Perry
2018-02-10
Jason helped me through a very low period in my life, I was depressed and anxious, using DBT skills helped resolve my symptoms.
Daniel Fox
Daniel Fox
2018-01-30
Got the training last year here and I can clearly say I am much skilled in DBT. They have changed my skill and this course is really helpful. Thanks