The Four Skill Modules
DBT Skills training is made up of four modules: core mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. They are designed to specifically assist individuals in better managing behaviors, emotions and thoughts. The intent is to help people who experience problems with anger or the expression of anger, episodic depression, irritability or anxiety, intense or chaotic relationships, impulsivity, stress and feelings of emptiness.
Core Mindfulness teaches a person how to focus their mind and attention. Distress Tolerance develops acceptance of the current situation as well as crisis survival skills to decrease the likelihood of engaging in problematic behavior. Emotion Regulation skills include learning to identify and label current emotions, identifying obstacles to changing emotions, reducing emotional reactivity, increasing positive emotions and changing emotions. Interpersonal Effectiveness skills teach helpful strategies for asking for what one needs, saying no, and coping with interpersonal conflict.
Core Mindfulness Skills
Mindfulness skills in DBT come from the eastern spiritual traditions. These skills help members focus on the present and attend to what is happening in the here and now in a calm way. It helps people slow down and focus on doing what is needed to care for oneself in the moment. Members learn the value of wise mind instead of succumbing to intense emotions and acting in a destructive way.
Distress Tolerance Skills
Distress tolerance helps people get through difficult times when emotions are running high. It teaches people to soothe themselves in healthy ways when they are feeling upset rather than becoming overwhelmed by emotions or hiding from them. This allows individuals to make wise decisions about whether and how to take action, rather than falling into the intense, desperate and often-destructive emotional reactions. Crisis survival skills are also taught so that one does not engage in problematic behaviors and ultimately make the situation worse. Reality Acceptance Skills focus on helping people fully accept reality and provide a guideline for responding to painful aspects of life.
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
Interpersonal effectiveness skills involve helping people understand what their needs are in their relationships and helps develop effective ways of dealing with others in order to get one’s wants or needs met in a healthy way. This involves respecting the self and others, listening and communicating effectively, dealing with difficult people, repairing relationships and being able to say no.
Emotion Regulation Skills
The DBT emotion regulation skills help people understand their emotions. It teaches people to decrease the intensity of their feelings and helps them ride out strong emotions without acting on them. It provides education about the function of emotions and how to not be swamped by them.
See also: Four Modules of DBT for Compulsive Eating and Binge Eating.