Self Soothing and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Concepts

Nature Lone Tree in Field

As a mother of a teenage son, a small business owner during COVID-19 challenges, and a wife of a husband dealing with cancer – I understand the need to self soothe! It helps to benefit from all the wonderful training as a therapist, but it still takes really hard work and commitment to carry on a nurturing relationship with oneself amidst all the stresses of life. This is where Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help.

So, here are 5 practical tips for coping with the often craziness of life, others and situations out of our control. These are loosely applied Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills that may help you cope and enjoy your life journey now.

5 Dialectical Behavior Therapy Practical Tips

1. Self-talk: The narrative you are giving yourself about your life matters! If you are being irrational and negative in your thinking, accept it. Don’t fight it, just acknowledge this less than effective thinking pattern may be occurring and be open to a kinder, gentler way of interpreting your life and internal dialogue.

2. Acceptance: Go ahead and accept the good, the bad and the ugly in your life. This in no way means you are giving in or giving up on the challenges you may be facing. But, it means you will give up the internal struggle to resist reality – rather, you will face it head-on and deal with it.

3. Embrace the here and now: Much of our emotional pain can be tied to worrying or agonizing about the past or fearful thoughts of the future. Surprisingly, the current moment may be quite comfortable, pain-free, and offer little treasures of pleasure that we can appreciate, such as music in our background, the warmth of sunlight on our skin, or interesting work before us.

woman with open arms to sunrise using Dialectical Behavior Therapy4. Understand that emotions can be managed and expressed appropriately: Emotions are often like a wave. They build up, crescendo, and then dissipate. No matter how intense, it is important to recognize that your emotions will not kill you. You can indeed live through painful feelings, and you will come out on the other side.

5. Embrace the concept that two seemingly oppositional theories can actually both have some truth: Allow yourself the dignity to fully absorb the seemingly black and white different view of the same situation and seek a common-sense middle ground.

It is easy to continue down the path of interpreting life as we always have done. If that is delivering good results for you, then, by all means, carry on as you have historically. If not, try these Dialectical Behavior Therapy tips and see how they work for you.

However, if your life experience involves more emotional pain than you would like, perhaps you may want to consider a more mindful and gentle approach with yourself and the story you are telling yourself.


Dijk, S. V. (2013). DBT Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide to Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

About the author:

Jacquelyn EkernJacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website. In addition, she is a fully licensed therapist with a closed private counseling practice specializing in the treatment of eating disorders.

Jacquelyn has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services degree from The University of Phoenix and a Master’s degree in Counseling/Psychology, from Capella University. She has extensive experience in the eating disorder field including advanced education in psychology, participation, and contributions to additional eating disorder groups, symposiums, and professional associations. She is a member of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), Academy of Eating Disorders (AED), the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC), and the International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp).

Jacquelyn enjoys art, working out, walking her dogs, reading, painting, and time with family. Although Eating Disorder Hope was founded by Jacquelyn Ekern, this organization would not be possible without support from our generous sponsors.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published May 26, 2020, on
Reviewed & Approved on May 26, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC