Marsha Linehan, PhD, first developed her groundbreaking Dialectical Behavior Therapy in the 1980’s to treat people who were suicidal, self harming or in some ways severely emotionally dysregulated–, all components of a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis.

DBT, as it is commonly called, combines elements of individual and group therapy along with social skills training to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder regulate the severe emotion turmoil they frequently experience, particularly anger, frustration, depression, impulsivity, aggressive behaviors toward other people as well as harming themselves. Dr. Linehan explains why acquiring positive social skills is critical for people beset by BPD:

If you are looking for help managing BPD or know someone who is, you likely will find DBT is not easy to find nor afford. However, Linehan’s social skills can be learned and used independent of formal therapy. In fact there are a number of books, videos and social media platforms that do just that. You can find many of them online

As you explore DBT social skills you may notice that many, if not most of them, have unusual names that are actually acronyms – DEARMAN, TIPP, PLEASE, etc.. Don’t let that hold you back. You’ll see these ‘words’ are verbal shortcuts that make sense and are very helpful remembering when and how to apply each of the various skills. Here’s an article that provides a good example of this.

It’s very important to keep in mind that learning the DBT social skills is not the same as being in therapy. But they are very helpful in helping you navigate the roiling sea of emotions you may experience until such time as you may be able to access a full Dialectical Behavior Therapy program.


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