Please welcome guest blogger, Amanda Smith, LMSW of Hope For BPD and My Dialectical Life and now author of the fantastic spiral bound resource, The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Wellness Planner: 365 Days of Healthy Living for Your Body, Mind, and Spirit.
I love DBT.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy not only saved my life, but it also gave me a framework for creating something that I thought I’d never have—a life worth living. For me, recovery from borderline personality disorder has been hard work, but it’s also been worth it every step of the way.
For a lot of people I know, keeping track of their skills, moods, and behaviors with a diary card can be a challenging (and often frustrating) experience. But keeping track of this important information is a good idea for several different reasons.
1. Recording our skills helps us to identify gaps.
Sometimes we can get stuck in a DBT skills pattern. We may find ourselves engaged in a little too much Distress Tolerance and not enough Emotion Regulation or we might recognize that we are leaning heavily on the FAST skills and that our GIVE skills may need a little extra work. Because mindfulness is a cornerstone of DBT, it’s essential that we stay on top of those skills throughout the week, too. Keeping a diary card can be a valuable way to help us to see what we may be missing.
2. Keeping a diary card helps us to celebrate our progress.
Early in my DBT program, I remember looking at my diary card and thinking, “I’m using a lot of skills!” I needed this visual evidence to help me see that there were small things that I could do each day to help myself. After a few months, I could look back and see what I had been working on during any given week. It gave me a boost to keep moving forward even on difficult days.
3. Tracking our skills and behaviors helps us to see where we are going.