The Best DBT skill

Rebecca Medway and I have co-facilitated Skills Groups together on and off since 2008. When our first DBTBrisbane group started running some years ago, some banter between Rebecca and I began to emerge about what is the best DBT skill. Before I go on, the thing you need to know about DBT is that it is full of acronyms that make next to no sense until you’re learning the skills.

Rebecca, always a keen advocate of the emotion regulation module, likes the PLEASE factors. Put simply these are skills to apply to help reduce vulnerability to negative emotions. If you struggle with intense anger, overwhelming anxiety or deep depression, this is the skill set for you. They help to keep you ticking along and feeling on top of your game.

I on the other hand am a fan of the DEAR MAN. As I am very passionate about social justice and people empowering themselves it was natural that I would gravitate towards a formula that helps people to assert themselves; to ask for things they want, to say “no” to things they don’t want, and to obtain their legitimate rights. This is essentially what the DEAR MAN is: a structure for both what you need to say and the way in which you need to say it when interpersonal issues arise.

Like all skills, the DEAR MAN takes practice. I was so inspired by the persistence of one of our first DBTBrisbane clients who trialled the DEAR MAN in different settings for many months before having the first taste of success. For myself, I still find that, given the time, it’s wise for me to sit down and write out the structure of a DEAR MAN in order to ensure that I deliver it most effectively.

Rebecca and I will probably never come to an agreement on what actually is the best DBT skill. However, we at least know that our passionate presentations of these skills help our clients to be able to know and use both of them most effectively.

Lyndon Barei