Romina from Mexico Shares about Online DBT Classes (in English & Spanish)

Shortly after asking our students about their experiences in our online dbt classes, DBT received this wonderful video from student Romina from Mexico.

In it, she discusses having been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, how she went through in-person DBT and CBT groups, and how our online courses have helped her maintain her skills practice on her ongoing recovery journery.

She also speaks on how our international peer community has helped support her recovery efforts.

Romina speaks first in English, then in Spanish.

Watch now:

For more information on our online DBT classes and to enroll, please visit

Do you have any questions or comments for Romina?  Post below!

DBT Diary Card Disasters

Last week in one of our online DBT classes, students talked about the inner dialogue that often comes up for them around DBT Diary Cards.  Here are some of the thoughts that were shared:

  • If I miss a day, I just want to throw it away. It's as if I've failed.
  • When I see how many skills other people checked off, I get discouraged and don't want to bother.
  • I don't know most of the skills on there, so why even bother?

First off, let's talk about the purposes of the DBT Diary Card, which include it being:

  • a tool for you to gather information on which skills you use during the day.  After using it for a while, you may begin to see patterns emerge: Are there some skills you use more than others?  Are there some skills that are being underutilized that might be helpful to try?  Are there certain days or times of the day that are easier to use the diary card?
  •  a resource during the day when you're looking for skillful alternatives to troublesome urges, impulses and thoughts.  You can carry your diary card with you in your pocket, bag, wallet, purse, etc., and when feeling stressed or emotionally activated, take it out and use it as an inspiration -- a DBT skills menu if you will.

What a diary card is not:

  • an all-or-nothing activity. So what if you miss a day?  Looking at the first disastrous thought at the beginning of this article,  there may be some black or white/all-or nothing thinking going on here: "Either I fill it out every day, or I don't do it at all." Explore the shades of grey, "It's okay if I don't fill it out here and there. I can still get some benefit from it even if I miss some days.
  • a measure of your self-worth or a tool to prove how imperfect you are. DBT diary cards are not a competition.  Someone may have more skills marked off than you for a variety of reasons: they know more skills, have integrated more skills into their lives, they don't fully understand how to use the card, or they have the same insecurities and are marking off skills left and right and willy nilly.  Who knows, and who cares?   Your DBT diary card if for YOUR use and benefit. 
  • a dreaded pop quiz.  Maya Angelou says, "When you know better, you do better."  You can only truly check off the skills you've come to learn and have begun practicing.  If you're overwhelmed at the number of skills on the card that you haven't yet learned, consider accessing a Word version of a diary card so that you can delete or hide the unknown skills and simply add them to the card as you learn them.

If you're feeling overwhelmed or upset with the process of filling out your diary card, try to remember that it's a tool and resource for you, meant to serve, encourage, and remind you.  If any other thoughts come up that discourage you about it, remember to challenge them. Not all thoughts are true.  You're working hard, and keeping a diary card can be a supportive part of your skills practice.

Do you keep a diary card?   Why or why not?  Have you struggled with these or other troublesome thoughts around completing them?  We look forward to your sharing.

Here's a link to a post our peer educator, Debbie Corso wrote early in her recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder on why she loved to fill out Diary Cards.   She isn't ashamed to share that part of it was the positive attention and feedback opportunity that she had during DBT class.

Romina's Letter: You Are Not Damaged! (BPD) Usted no se ha dañado!

Romina is a young woman from Mexico who found DBT Path's online classes.  She is healing from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and has written this compassionate letter to her former self. Read on in English and español...

Dear 2013 Romina,

I certainly know you have been through a lot in these last couple of years. You now somehow have more balance in your life; the crisis and the suffering is not as bad as it used to be. I’m so proud of how much you have worked to get there.

Of course therapy helped, but you did the hard work girl! I don’t think the 2011 Romina would have ever conceived of all of the balance you have achieved.

Although you have made so much improvement, I know you don’t feel totally free yet, and you’re right, in your path there is still much to discover and learn. All of those feeling with which you still struggle will get better. You have it in you, you just need more skills.

I know how hard it is to still feel like you’re not going to be able to manage things. I know you feel like you are still not enough, like everyone else is so far and you will never catch up. And although I know that feeling, I know how much you had to work to get where you are, and you are doing a great job.

In some months or weeks you will discover some online classes and community that will help you see things in a very different way. You will reinforce the DBT skills you already know and learn new ones, but that’s not really the important thing. The most important thing is that you will discover a place where you belong. At DBT Path, you will discover you are enough, you will discover that being enough doesn’t mean you’re popular or accepted by everyone, you will learn that there are different ways of being enough.

I know how right now you feel like you don’t fit, like you will always be damaged, but you’re not. You are just imperfect, like we all are, but you’re so very valuable. Soon you will discover you still have much more inside you, you still have a lot to achieve, you are much more than you have discovered already. Hang on girl, because the best is still yet to come.

You are enough and you are an amazing person, you just haven’t fully discovered it yet.


2014 Romina

Querida Romina 2013,
Se por todo lo que has tenido que pasar en estos últimos años. Ahora tienes mucha más balance en tu vida, las crisis y el sufrimiento ya no son tan malos como antes, estoy muy orgullosa de ti y lo mucho que has trabajado para llegar aquí.
Claro que la terapia ha ayudado, pero ¡tú hiciste el trabajo pesado chica! No creo que la Romina 2011 habría pensado que podrías alcanzar el balance que has alcanzado.
Aunque has logrado muchas mejorar, sé que no te sientes completamente libre y tienes razón, en tu camino aún falta mucho por descubrir y conocer. Todos esos sentimientos con los que estas peleando ahora van a mejorar, lo tienes dentro de ti, sólo necesitas más herramientas.
Sé lo difícil que aún es sentir que no eres capaz de manejar muchas cosas. Sé que aun te sientes como que no eres suficiente, como que todos los demás están ya tan avanzados que es imposible que algún día los alcances. Y aunque conozco ese sentimiento, se lo mucho que tuviste que trabajar para llegar a donde estas ahorita y estás haciendo un gran trabajo.
En unos meses o semanas vas a descubrir unas clases online y una comunidad que te va a ayudar a ver todo de manera diferente. Vas a poder reforzar las herramientas de DBT que ya conoces y aprender algunas nuevas, pero eso no va a ser lo que es más importante. Lo más importante es que vas a descubrir un lugar a donde pertenecer, vas a descubrir que eres suficiente, vas a descubrir que ser suficiente no significa ser popular o aceptado por todo, vas a aprender que hay muchas maneras de ser suficiente.
Sé que ahorita se siente como que no encajas en ningún lado, que siempre vas a esta dañada, pero no es verdad. Eres imperfecta, como todos lo somos, pero eres muy valiosa de todas formas. Pronto descubrirás que tienes mucho más dentro de ti de lo que creías, aun tienes mucho que lograr, eres mucho más de lo que has descubierto hasta ahora. Aguanta chica, porque lo mejor apenas viene.
Eres suficiente y eres una persona increíble, sólo que aún no lo descubres.
Romina del 2014

Saludos, buen dia

Remembering to Use DBT Skills When Emotionally Dysregulated

We recently reached out to the students in our private/secret Facebook group (open to students and alumni of our online DBT classes) to get their feedback on a question we often get from students utilizing their weekly DBT skills coaching benefit.

The question is:  How do you remember to use the DBT skills when in crisis?

Read on for the insightful answers that came in that we hope inspire you to stay skillful, even on the tough days.

Do you use any of these methods to remember to be skillful?  Do you have other ideas?  Please share them in the comments below.

Avoiding Mood Altering People (Emotion Regulation)

In our online Emotion Regulation 1 class today, one of our students shared that this past weekend she attended a family dinner where a relative made insensitive remarks about minority groups, and this really offended her.  She noticed her anger rising to 95 on a scale of 0-100.  After the incident, she filled out an Emotion Regulation 1A worksheet and discussed it in group today.

While checking in about the homework she completed, she shared that days later she is still feeling some anger toward the person.  Part of this is because she openly and respectfully expressed her dismay at his behavior, and rather than take responsibility for the comments that he made and offering a sincere apology, he gave her a business-like email response accepting no responsibility.

Unable to change her relative's ways and his response, she needed to figure out how to take care of herself.

Here are the ways that she is using DBT skills and her Wise Mind to cope as effectively as possible:

  • Took her day off from work as a chance to rest and self-soothe
  • Did the 1A worksheet
  • Expressed her angry thoughts about this person in a safe way by writing them in her personal journal rather than giving in to urges to break things, which she would later regret
  • Did tasks that made her feel masterful including housework
  • Structured her day to include meal times and bed time so she didn't sink deeper into the overwhelm of the emotion and neglect these important aspects of her day
  • Set boundaries, including a clearly expressed message about how her feelings were hurt (using the DBT Skills set of DEAR MAN)
  • Avoided mood altering substances, which is something she struggles with when feeling emotionally triggered.
  • Reached out to safe people for support
  • Realized that, in the future, she will carefully consider how she is feeling emotionally before exposing herself to people that upset her... she will "Avoid Mood Altering People."

In doing these steps, the student helped to reduce her anger and kept herself safe and distant from potentially sabotaging behaviors.  She found ways to manage and tolerate the distress that arose from the upsetting interactions with her family member.

Do you sometimes find yourself in situations with "mood altering people"?  How might you skillfully handle situations like that faced by this student?  How might you take care of yourself in terms of your exposure to such people?

Over Disclosure on the 99¢ rack (Boundaries)

Recently in one of our online DBT Groups in which we were all reading Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, we discussed the subject of how sharing our story, our lives, and our business, with people who have not "earned it," is like devaluing our experience.  We likened our over disclosure to putting our business on the 99¢ rack instead of protecting it as a much higher valued and precious part of ourselves.

When we struggle with boundary issues, it can be difficult to contain ourselves when a seemingly kind and receptive person is willing to listen to our hardships and struggles.  It can be very tempting to "tell all" in the time it takes to wait for a bus with a stranger or at work with colleagues who we then have to face every day going forward.  We might regret our choice to tell so much and then be left with a feeling of shame.

The good news is, when we recognize the pattern to over disclose, we can begin working on our boundaries to reduce this behavior.  There are a number of DBT skills that can help us be effective at this, and the module of Interpersonal Effectiveness is where we begin to learn how reducing this type of behavior can help us to better enter into and maintain healthy relationships with others.

Do you struggle with boundaries?  Do you find it difficult to hold back when tempted to share your story with those who may not appreciate it, respect it, or be able to hold the space that you hope they will?  What are some ways you have found help you when feeling this way?

If you'd like to learn more about creating and enforcing healthy boundaries, check out our online Interpersonal Effectiveness course, which starts soon.

DBT Pros & Cons Worksheet Explained

This morning in one of our online DBT classes, one of our students shared how she used a DBT Pros and Cons worksheet to help her decide whether or not to go on a certain medication.

Coping with a physical ailment and having taken the prescription before, the student was aware of the potential benefits and side effects of taking it.  She rated her anxiety as 80 on a scale of 0-100 before filling out this sheet:
The most obvious distinction between the Pros and Cons list that many of us have made outside of DBT is that instead of having just two columns labeled "Pros" and Cons," there are two additional sections.

When you do this particular worksheet, you want to look at all of the following to help you make an informed decision.  This can be about any issue which has you feeling stuck and unable to decide:

  1. The Pros of going with this decision (upper left square)
  2. The Cons of going with this decision  (upper right square)
  3. The pros of not going with this decision  (lower right square)
  4. The cons of not going with the decision  (lower left square)

Initially, it may seem that 1 & 4 and 2 & 3 are similar -- and they are, but we find that when students list reasons from each of these perspectives, they come up with more insights to help them make a more well-rounded, Wise Mind decision.

The student in our example listed many pros of taking the prescription, such as how she knows it has worked in the past, it can help prevent her condition from progressing, and how it can prevent the need to take other, additional types of medications.

She also noted some side effects that she is aware of, including difficulty sleeping, heightened anxiety and mood swings, and weight gain.

After completing the Pros and Cons worksheet, she made the decision to take the medication.  Keeping all of the information in mind, she decided that the benefits outweighed the potential negatives, and she came up with self-empowering solutions to address her concerns, including: integrating more movement in her day, talking to her doctor about help with potential temporary insomnia, and reminding herself when she feels mood swings and anxiety that it is "just an effect of the medication" and nothing she needs to be alarmed about.

Upon completion of the sheet, she felt her anxiety level had reduced to a score of 30.  We think that's quite effective!

Have you ever used a pros and cons worksheet to weigh a decision?  Did you use the old fashioned two column version or one like this?  How might you use the DBT version to help you make a skillful decision?