DBT Skills: Help for Surviving Intense Emotions

In our lives, we often face situations that elicit intense emotions. These emotions can be overwhelming, leading us into a state of crisis. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers several skills that can help.

Radical Acceptance

DBT skills work, when in crisis, we often wish things were different. However, resisting reality can add to our distress. This is where Radical Acceptance comes in. It involves completely accepting your situation in your mind, body, and heart. Acknowledging reality, even when it’s painful, can reduce suffering and allow you to respond effectively.


The DBT skill Mindfulness forms the core of DBT and can be an effective tool for managing a crisis. It encourages living in the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness can help you recognize your emotional state, allowing you to respond with greater self-control.


Wise Mind

DBT skills such as Wise Mind are a mental state where emotional thinking and logical thinking overlap. It’s about integrating the facts about a situation and your emotions to arrive at a balanced decision. In a crisis, activating your Wise Mind can provide a balanced perspective, promoting healthier responses.


Pros and Cons

In the heat of a crisis, it can be challenging to make rational decisions. Weighing the pros and cons of tolerating distress versus acting impulsively can help. This technique is about visualizing the consequences of your potential actions, which can deter impulsive responses and promote healthier coping strategies.



Self-soothing is a technique that involves comforting yourself in ways that engage your five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. It’s about doing things that make you feel calm and relaxed. This could involve listening to soothing music, savouring a favourite meal, or taking a warm bath. In a crisis, self-soothing can help you to calm down, making it easier to think clearly.



Improving the Moment

This DBT skill involves finding ways to make a distressing situation more tolerable. Techniques include relaxation exercises, visualization, prayer, or finding meaning in a distressing situation. Improving the moment can help shift your focus away from distress, giving you the ability to respond more effectively.



DBT Skills can Improve How you Handle Crises in your life

Utilizing these DBT skills can significantly improve how you handle crises in your life. However, these skills, like any others, require practice. Try out different skills and see which ones work best for you in different situations. And remember, it’s okay to reach out for professional help when dealing with intense emotions or crises. You are not alone, and there are resources available to help.