A DBT Refresher

Table of Contents

    Part of learning is to review, and particularly when you have had a chance to put something into practice, a review is very helpful. In treatment, you learned about DBT, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy. These were some of the skills that helped you to heal the most and to learn to manage your mental health. They are so important to you and a quick refresher will help you achieve your best level of mental health.


    There are two very powerful pieces of mindfulness. The first is learning to be present, to be right here, right now. Not thinking about the past, not worrying about the future. Not thinking about that boy or that girl or texting your friend or thinking about what you are going to eat next or what you are doing this weekend. Now. Here. Noticing where you are, who is here, what is going on, now. Here. 

    When you are present, you are giving 100 percent of your attention and focus to the here and now., the moment. You do not have a judgment that is clouded by other things and you are not distracted by things that have nothing to do with this moment. Your brain is able to process reality in the moment and that gives your brain all of the power to make clear, conscious decisions.

    Acceptance is the other really powerful piece of mindfulness. Learning to simply look at things, as is, no judgments, just seeing things as they are. Coming from a place of poor mental health where depression, anxiety, or substance abuse clouded your past, present, and future and warped your version of life, acceptance is very powerful. Think of acceptance as your television into life; acceptance allows you to watch life in HD, with a perfect sound system, and no distractions, no emotionally-distorted memories. It is all of the show, with none of the commercials.

    Together, being present and practicing acceptance allows you to be 100 percent responsible for your actions in life. You are no longer weighed down by depression, anxiety, or substance use. You are able to process life in real-time, to see the world exactly as it happens, not worrying if it is good or bad or clouding your vision with the lenses of mental distress. You can be completely effective from your new vantage point, and your mind will thank you for it. 

    Managing Stress

    The problem when we are not healthy mentally is that there will be stressors and triggers that don’t even make any sense. For example, your mind might react to having a substitute in one class as if your life is over, even though it isn’t anything like that. So learning to manage stress is vital. 

    When you practice stress management, you can accurately process what is happening, and then respond appropriately to the level of stress. For example, when you go to class and find out there is a sub, instead of reacting as if your life is over, your brain is able to process the fact that you had that assignment due that you hadn’t finished, and now that you have a substitute, you actually have an extra day to finish it. What previously would have sent off every negative emotional alarm in your mind and body actually becomes a positive for you.


    Many of life’s biggest misunderstandings come from poor communication skills. While successful communication is based on both parties being able to effectively communicate, you can raise the bar of successful communication by doing your part. When you are able to express yourself through the lens of being in the moment, without judgment, and use body language and other non-verbal skills to present your thoughts, ideas, and needs, then your chances for successful communication go up exponentially.

    Being able to express your needs and advocate for yourself is such a powerful tool to have. When you are able to vocalize your needs to others, not only are you communicating with them, but you are validating yourself and your needs. The power of using your words to get what you need is so valuable. Communication is power.


    The human experience is made unique partially because of our ability to experience emotions. Emotions can make you feel, however when you are lacking mental health, they can also steer you wrong. Learning to regulate our emotions is important to your mental health (and perhaps the mental health of others around you, too.) Similar to managing stress, you need to remember to regulate your emotions by matching your responses to the situations. It is fine to mourn if we lose someone, for example, but if we lose our pencil, our emotional response should be considerably less. 

    You did the work. You have been living your own mental health. You can continue to grow and be more empowered every day as you work not only to implement your DBT skills in your life, but to become that mental health in all you live and breathe each day.

    Remember the skills you gained at Embark Behavioral Health. For questions call 1-855-809-0409. The skills that saved your life can become your life.

    About the Author

    Embark Behavioral Health

    Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.