Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (also referred to as DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy originally used to help individuals suffering from borderline personality disorders. However, research has been applied to extend DBT for addressing many other difficulties including anxiety, restlessness, depression, and trauma.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy-Mindfulness (DBTM) training was created to assist many clients with general mental health challenges. Therefore, a module on mindfulness was developed to help clients reach the “wise mind,” and focused on two sets of skills—the “what” skills and the “how” skills.
What are the “What” and the “How” skills?
This first set of skills is meant to help the client learn how to:
- Simply observe their experience.
- Describe their experience using a verbal label.
- Be fully present in the moment and in their actions without feeling self-conscious.
These abilities allow the client to realize that everything about the circumstance is his own idea, and the “how” abilities lead to the next set of abilities. Gaining awareness of thoughts and being grounded in the present help the customer develop positive “how” abilities.
The “how” skills relate to the goal of teaching clients how to observe, describe, and participate in their own experiences. This set of skills is intended to help clients:
- Learn to have experiences in a non-evaluative and non-judgmental manner.
- Focus on one thing at a time and learn to bring their attention back to the target when they go off course.
- Be effective, or keep their focus on their goals regardless of their current mood
Let’s take the time and recognize how DBT highlights the power of mindfulness in a vast selection of means. Let’s take a look at some examples of this.
The Plant Leaf
- Observe how a five-minute meditation with a leaf at your eye-level, brings you into the world of reality and the present moment.
- Hold a leaf in your hands, notice its colours, shapes, textures, and patterns, and allow it to bring yourself into the present moment.
To complete this exercise, make sure to pay attention to every small detail as it pertains to what you’re holding. Recall the experience of eating, and recall that experience later. Just select any kind of small food you can pick up and explore it to the fullest.
You may have a visceral response to certain tastes because you’re familiar with them, but pay attention to the smell. Close your eyes and carry across the senses of sight and taste, bringing attention to the smell. This exercise has the ability to open up a new dimension to your tastes and preferences.
Take the time to taste the food that you are going to eat. Pay attention to its texture, weight, and other sensory qualities. Open your awareness to the scent. These physical sensations may help make the food more delicious.
Of course, there is much more to the “What” and the “How” skills than what was described above. If you are eager to learn more, take a look at the DBT Mindfulness Course. This course covers DBT Mindfulness in 12 weeks of exciting content and experiences. No prior experience is required, just join and appreciate.