Dialectical Behaviour Therapy – What is it? How do we use it?


DBT… What is it?

Dialectically Behavioural Therapy (DBT) was originally developed by Marsha M Linehan. This type of therapy has revolutionised cognitive-behavioural therapies by introducing concepts such as mindfulness and acceptance, which have had a positive influence on many service users. DBT was originally developed by Lineman in order to treat clients whom had suicidal or exhibited self-harming behaviours, and has rapidly grown in its use in USA and more recently in Europe. Lineman introduced a set of standardised skills in order to combat the issue of many clients lacking various capabilities; these skills were introduced to indirectly empower these clients to take control of their own lives. Lineman aimed to achieve this by encouraging clients to regulate their emotions, recognise their internal states, focus their attention, tolerate distress and develop positive interpersonal relationships with others. Linehan’s techniques have now been adapted to treat clients with further difficulties such as anxiety, depression and further. Here at One-Eighty, we have seen first-hand the benefit of incorporating DBT into our interventions when working with our young people. So the question that may be lingering in your mind is how exactly do we use it? See below!


How can it be used?

Below we have detailed a DBT exercise that we have found useful within One-Eighty when working with young people and their families. This exercise uses the acronym DEARMAN and sits within the category of interpersonal effectiveness within DBT. Interpersonal effectiveness helps us to maintain and create relationships, balance priorities versus demands and encourage us to be mindful of how we communicate. Below we have detailed how DEARMAN can be used.


DEARMAN exercise –DEARMAN is useful when working with any individual who has difficulty effectively communicating what they wish to say or what they want. Perhaps they wish to ask for something from a friend or family member, however when they communicate their message it is not conveyed clearly and this creates difficulties. DEARMAN is an acronym which encourages the person conveying the message to be mindful of seven areas. Before conveying their message, ask the individual to take into consideration the these areas.


Describe – to the other person what you want

Express – how you feel

Assert – your needs clear but steer clear from being aggressive

Reinforce – your views to the other person and ensure that they understand why they should respond/accept your message/request

Mindful – Describe strategies for being mindful

Appear Confident – Describe strategies for appearing confident

Negotiate – Be prepared to negotiate for what you’re asking for

One-Eighty have found this skill to be useful when working with young people and their parents, either for when a parent wants to ask for something which they want of their child, or for a child to ask for something which they want from their parent. However, the parent-child relationship is not the only setting where DEARMAN can be used. For example, DEARMAN can also be used between pupil and teacher, friends, siblings and pretty much any other arena where communication is used.


DEARMAN is only one way to use DBT, to find out other effective ways to use DBT get in touch! You can do this by either visiting our website www.one-eighty.org.uk. Filling in one of our contact forms at www.one-eighty.org.uk/contact-us/. Or, of course by telephone on 01865 236869

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