An Introduction to Dialectical Behavior Therapy: 1. Mindfulness
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidenced-based type of psychotherapy developed to help individuals manage emotions and symptoms of mental illness. It includes four different modules that will be explained in a series starting with Mindfulness in this article.
Mindfulness has become a buzz word in recent years, and for good reason. Being mindful is increasingly challenging as our lives become more focused on technology, and most of us are running on auto-pilot to manage our packed schedules. Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present without judgment, being aware of what is happening in your mind, in your body, and in your surroundings. It is easy enough to see how detached we can become from the present when we think of an activity like driving. Do you have full awareness of your actions every time you use your blinker or look in the mirror? Something we tend to do so often becomes automatic, to the point we might not even fully remember getting from one point to another!
While this lack of awareness has become the norm, it can cause problems with our mental health. When we go through the motions without checking in with ourselves to notice how we are feeling and responding to things, we become ungrounded and detached from ourselves and our experiences.
Learning to become more mindful in our everyday lives is a process that takes time, but even starting with small practices can help. Mindfulness is the foundation for being able to improve our emotional experience and mental health.
DBT teaches the following ideas for mindfulness:
Here are some ways to build mindfulness skills:
If you feel you need more guidance to incorporate mindfulness skills and improve your mental health, a licensed mental health professional can help.
-Laura Gross, LMSW
Marsh Psychology Group
Linehan, M. M. (2014). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. New York: Guildford Press