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4 Effective DBT Techniques for Anxiety

DBT techniques for anxiety are helping a wealth of individuals learn how to identify, manage, respond and prepare for anxiety-inducing situations. Being one of the most common mental health-related issues in the world, finding techniques that help manage these conditions is incredibly valuable to improving the mental health of millions.

What is DBT?

DBT is short for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in which the goal is to educate clients on how to thrive in the moment. It teaches healthy ways to manage and cope with stress, self-regulate, and grow in one’s relationship with themselves and with others.

This type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy aims to transition one’s negative thinking patterns towards positive behavioral changes. It gives clients the power to manage painful, stressful, or “anxious” emotions. Originally, DBT was developed for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Since its start, mental health providers now use it to treat people experiencing other mental health-related issues including depression, eating disorders, PTSD, substance abuse, and anxiety.

This type of therapy primarily consists of one-on-one therapy sessions. A therapist guides a client, teaching them valuable DBT techniques for anxiety. The client then uses DBT techniques for anxiety to better regulate and manage their emotions. Below are 5 DBT techniques for anxiety that providers find useful.

DBT Techniques for Anxiety:


Psychologists define mindfulness as a state of active and open attention to where you are in the moment. It is a client’s ability to objectively view a situation as it is happening, accurately identify their emotions, and make decisions accordingly. The practice of mindfulness is one of the most commonly used DBT techniques for anxiety. It is an important step for a client who is learning how to self-regulate their own emotions.

Out of all the DBT techniques for anxiety, this one is generally the most effective in helping a client focus on the present, pay attention to what is happening within their thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and learn how to view those things objectively. Mindfulness helps a client learn to slow down when their anxiety makes them feel like they cannot catch a breath. It also helps a client avoid engaging and succumbing to their own negative thought patterns and behaviors. Rather than hyper-fixate on what an individual cannot control, mindfulness enables a client to better deal with the future as it comes.

Emotion Regulation

DBT techniques for anxiety are designed to help an individual avoid succumbing to their own negative thought patterns and behaviors, and, instead, engage in positive ones. Next on the list of DBT techniques for anxiety is emotional regulation.

Emotional regulation enables a client to explore intense and powerful emotions in a constructive way rather than a destructive way. When battling anxiety, clients often struggle with feeling overcome by their negative emotions. Emotional regulation is the process of learning skills that prevent this. These skills include learning how to identify, name, and transition your emotion to something better. Out of all the DBT techniques for anxiety, emotional regulation and mindfulness both aim to decrease the “power” of negative emotions over one’s well-being.

Distress Tolerance

When an individual encounters a situation that has the potential to trigger them into an anxious response, they need DBT techniques for anxiety that help them manage it. Distress tolerance is the technique clients should use when they are forced to endure a situation they would rather exit. While in an ideal world, we would simply avoid triggers, this is not always possible.

Different from other DBT techniques for anxiety, this method focuses on teaching clients how to cope during situations that are out of their control. For those battling anxiety, this is incredibly valuable. This method focuses on plans that are easily accessible no matter the situation. The goal of distress tolerance is to teach a client not only how to cope in stressful situations, but also how to flourish.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The last of the DBT techniques for anxiety include interpersonal effectiveness. This technique focuses on how an individual can manage and engage with everyday people and situations. Those battling anxiety know that there is not always one thing or one situation that triggers them. Sometimes, normal day-to-day life can be an anxiety-inducing situation. Anxiousness can sometimes cause someone to hide in the background rather than put themselves out there. Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on helping individuals become more assertive, set more boundaries, and build strong/healthy relationships with others. The goal is to help an individual with anxiety learn how to deal with people who might normally trigger anxiousness, become confident in themselves, and learn what healthy communication looks like.

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