If you are undergoing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), you will use DBT diary cards as part of your treatment. The purpose of these cards is to learn to observe your urges and feelings and practice the four DBT skills – mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
Observing Your Feelings
You will use the Dialectical Behavior Therapy diary cards to keep track of your feelings and urges during the week. You will target a particular behavior for the week and take note daily of your urge to use or avoid your target behavior.
You will also rate the intensity of your emotions on your DBT diary cards. For example, you may keep track of such emotions as anger, fear, shame, joy, pain, and sadness. For each of these emotions, you would rate on a scale of 0 to 5 the intensity of your emotion.
Doing this allows you to be more mindful of your emotions and urges and learn to recognize what triggers them. It’s also a helpful way to communicate with your DBT therapist what you were experiencing during the week.
Practicing DBT Skills
Using the DBT diary cards, you will also rate how you’ve used your DBT skills. The diary cards are a way to keep track of if you are using the DBT skills you’ve learned during Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Practicing the DBT skills can mean talking about them with your DBT therapist, noticing when you do or don’t use them, or specifically setting out to use one of the DBT skills. For example, if you are working on improving a relationship with a friend, you might observe situations where you could learn to assert yourself by setting boundaries and saying “no.” With the diary cards, you can track the progress of you becoming more comfortable with setting boundaries and begin to observe when and how you do.
Using DBT Diary Cards
You will monitor your emotions and use of DBT skills on the diary cards on your own. Set a time each day – typically at the end of the day – when you can reflect on the activities of the day and your experiences. Really take time to sit in a quiet space and reflect on the events of the day so that you can be mindful of your emotions and use of DBT skills. If it’s easier, keep your diary cards handy so that you can mark them throughout the day.
During your sessions with your DBT therapist, you will review your DBT diary cards. They can be a good way to let your therapist know what emotions you had during the week and how you used the DBT skills to work through your problems. You’ll be able to see which areas are improving, and which areas need more work. It’s also an effective way of keeping track of your emotional progress.
Remember that there are no right or wrong answers as you are filling out your DBT diary cards, and that nobody is going to judge your answers. The DBT diary cards are there for you to learn and grow as you undergo Dialectical Behavior Therapy.