What is a DBT diary card?

A DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) diary card is a tool used in DBT therapy to help individuals track and manage their emotions, behaviors, and skills practice. DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, primarily used to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) but also helpful for other conditions involving emotional dysregulation.

The diary card typically includes various categories, and individuals are encouraged to fill it out daily or as needed to monitor their emotional and behavioral patterns. The specific categories on a DBT diary card can vary depending on the individual’s needs and treatment goals, but they often include the following elements:

  1. Emotions: Individuals list and rate their emotions throughout the day, helping them become more aware of their emotional states and fluctuations.
  2. Behaviors: Clients record any problematic or target behaviors they engaged in, such as self-harm, substance abuse, impulsive actions, or other behaviors they want to change.
  3. Skills Practice: Clients note the DBT skills they practiced that day, such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  4. Self-Harm or Suicidal Behaviors: If applicable, individuals report any self-harming or suicidal thoughts or actions.
  5. Life Interferences: Clients document any factors that interfered with their ability to engage in effective coping strategies or reach their goals.
  6. Medications: If medication is part of the treatment plan, individuals may record their medication use.
  7. Targets and Goals: Individuals set and track specific therapeutic targets or goals related to their treatment.

The diary card serves several purposes:

  1. Self-awareness: It helps clients become more aware of their emotions, behaviors, and patterns, fostering self-reflection and understanding.
  2. Accountability: It encourages clients to take responsibility for their actions and progress in therapy.
  3. Communication: It provides a structured way for clients to communicate with their therapists about their experiences and challenges.
  4. Treatment planning: It helps therapists and clients identify areas of focus and track progress over time.

DBT diary cards are typically used in conjunction with individual therapy sessions, group therapy, and phone coaching to provide a comprehensive approach to managing emotions and behaviors. They are a valuable tool for individuals working on improving emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and overall mental well-being. Waverider offers a diary card builder that is customizable, and digital and makes use of data collection over time to get a more comprehensive look at overall progress measurement.

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