Key Takeaways Key Takeaways
  • Mindfulness is a key component of DBT and perhaps the most practical to implement on a daily basis.

  • Both DBT and CBT are impactful approaches, but DBT stands out as the most effective for understanding complex emotions.

  • Interpersonal relationships can be our greatest emotional teachers.

Top 5 DBT Techniques for Managing Emotions

Why DBT Is Beneficial

As an offshoot of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is designed to help individuals strengthen their emotional management skills, improve their interpersonal relationships, and navigate distress more effectively. Think of it like a toolbox, filled with a diverse range of strategies, ready to equip us in handling the stressors of everyday life.

In this blog we outline five DBT related techniques that help people on their way towards emotional mastery and greater balance in their lives. As you read on, remember, these are more than mere techniques; they are the steppingstones towards a more emotionally fulfilling life.


Mindfulness is a core component of DBT. It involves staying rooted in and paying attention to the present moment, without judgment, and maintaining awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness exercises, such as focused breathing and body scans, not only help to get grounded during times of emotional turmoil, but they also help people understand their emotions better and how to respond to them in a more balanced and healthy manner. Mindfulness also helps us understand the connection between thoughts and emotions. Since many of our thoughts can be harmful to our mental health, it’s important to be mindful of what goes on inside our heads.

Another way to incorporate mindfulness is to take up a daily meditation practice. You can do this by following guided meditations, taking classes, or simply setting a timer for 10-15 minutes a day to sit in silence.

One-On-One Therapy Sessions

DBT sessions always take place with a trained therapist in a safe and supportive environment, where individuals can explore their emotions, discuss challenges, and receive personalized guidance. The therapeutic alliance between the individual and the therapist is crucial for the success of DBT.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Developing healthy relationships is essential for emotional well-being, and interpersonal effectiveness in DBT focuses on learning effective communication skills, setting boundaries, and balancing priorities in relationships. DBT-trained therapists often assist individuals in improving assertiveness and building meaningful connections with others.

Interpersonal relationships are vastly important to every individual but can greatly challenge us in our everyday lives. Practicing these interpersonal skills in real-time can not only help us understand ourselves on a deeper level, but also serve as a DBT training ground where the end goal is fostering meaning in our lives through our relationships.

Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation gets to the crux of identifying and managing intense emotions constructively, by identifying triggers, refraining from reactive behaviors, and using distraction or self-soothing strategies, to name a few. As such, DBT helps individuals recognize that all emotions are valid and provides tools to manage them in a healthy manner. Especially for patients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and other conditions, this technique is crucial because these disorders are often misunderstood.

This technique goes hand-in-hand with interpersonal relationships, as learning to validate and regulate our own emotions can encourage others to do the same.

Distress Tolerance

Life has its occasional challenges, and it’s inevitable that stressful situations will arise. We cannot control many of these, but we can be mindful of our inward and outward responses.

DBT equips individuals with distress tolerance skills to cope with crisis situations without making things worse. These techniques teach individuals to tolerate emotional pain, engage in self-soothing activities, and resist impulsive behaviors when facing difficult situations. Instead of focusing on avoiding uncomfortable feelings, this technique encourages individuals to embrace what they feel to better understand their emotions and responses.

If you are looking to benefit from the transformative effects of DBT, Lifestance offers comprehensive DBT services. With DBT-trained therapists and a strong focus on emotional regulation and distress tolerance, LifeStance can help you develop the skills needed to lead a more fulfilling and emotionally balanced life.

Remember, while Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have distinct approaches, the choice between them depends on your unique needs and challenges. If you require support in changing thought patterns, CBT may be a suitable option, but if you seek to manage intense emotions and build strong relationships, DBT could be the right fit.

Take the first step towards emotional growth and well-being by exploring the DBT services offered by LifeStance. Find a provider here.

Authored By 

LifeStance Health
LifeStance Health

LifeStance is a mental healthcare company focused on providing evidence-based, medically driven treatment services for children, adolescents, and adults suffering from a variety of mental health issues in an outpatient care setting, both in-person and through its digital health telemedicine offering.

Reviewed By

Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S
Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S

Nicholette is a faculty member at John Carroll University’s Clinical Counseling program, and she is also the host of the LifeStance podcast, Convos from the Couch.