Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT focuses on interactions among thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Its premise is that individuals can accept their thoughts, feelings, and relationships, yet make changes that allow them to move in a positive direction.  DBT provides three ways to reflect on one’s state of mind:

  • Emotion Mind:  Thinking is highly influenced by emotion

  • Reasonable Mind:  Thinking is logical, devoid of emotion and extremely focused

  • Wise Mind:  A state of balance between emotion and reason that permits the acknowledgement of emotion without impeding an effective response


Four skill sets are used to help individuals achieve “wise mind”: 

  • Mindfulness:  Remaining in the present moment, identifying how you are feeling, slowing thoughts, acknowledge and experience emotions without judgment

  • Distress tolerance:  Increasing the ability to tolerate strong, negative emotions rather than turning to avoidant behaviors such as over-eating, spending, drinking or drugs.

  • Emotion Regulation:  This skill set focus on improving physical health as a way to reduce emotional vulnerability through eating well, getting proper sleep and exercise.

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness:  The focus of this skill set is on being able to act and speak in a thoughtful, effective way, rather than responding purely from an emotional state, and relies on the ability to examine relationships to identify what is working and not working, understand needs, and set appropriate boundaries.


While DBT was originally used to address severe mental health issues, it can benefit anyone who wants to improve the ways in which they manage emotions and address conflicts.  Kelly Graling serves as a DBT consultant for the District.


Mindfulness practices have been shown to decrease anxiety, increase attention, improve emotion regulation, and strengthen compassion.  Mindfulness practices are taught in the elementary school, with the assistance of “Little Flower Yoga” instructors.  Mindfulness has also been incorporated into middle school advisory instruction, and a mindfulness club has been established for high school students.