DBT Diary Benefits and How To Use One

dbt diary

Dialectical behavioral therapy is often abbreviated as DBT. It is a treatment solution for those who need to regulate their emotions and mental health. It can help those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and depression as well. Along with others who might struggle dealing with strong emotions. A therapist might recommend one to keep a DBT diary card, so as to record the emotions experienced and the skills used to deal with them. While many people prefer to keep a regular card, one can also resort to technology and use an application for such purposes.

The DBT diary, a useful tool for keeping track of your coping skills

The CareClinic health app can be used as a DBT diary, allowing you to stay in control of your treatment, even when you are not in therapy. Most therapists encourage their clients to make use of technology and record their emotions, as well as coping skills on a regular basis.

If you are wondering how to use a DBT diary, please keep on reading. As you will see in any Word document that contains a DBT diary card or a workbook for the same purpose, you can begin by adding emotions you have experienced. These can include: anger, sadness, fear, shame, agitation and joy. You can also add self-harm urges and self-harm actions.

For the best overview of your mental health status, you can use a rating scale for your emotions: 0 – none; 1 – minimal; 2 – mild; 3 – moderate; 4 – strong; 5 – intense. As you will see below, the skills are divided into main four categories, meaning mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation.

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You can also rate the coping skills you have used, using a similar rating scale, from 0 to 5: 0 – did not think about using; 1 – thought about using but did not want to use; 2 – wanted to use but I did not; 3 – used skills but they did not help; 4 – used skills and they helped; 5 – did not the skills. Additional notes can be added on urges to quit therapy (individual or group sessions). All you have to do is write your skills, as well as the days you worked on them.

Benefits of using an app for your DBT Journey

From the CareClinic application, you can export your records as a DBT diary PDF document and share the information with your therapist. This is a great advantage, as these records can present a clear overview of the progress you have made.

Moreover, the therapist can use the information included on a daily basis and gathered into a monthly report for the identification of behavioral pattern and triggers of negative emotions. Together, you can work on more effective solutions for coping with strong emotions, especially with regard to specific skills you still have difficulties resorting to.

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DBT Diary Daily Journaling

You might not know this but the app has integrated reminders, which can be set up to keep you on the right track. For example, after you learn how to fill out DBT diary reports, you can set up reminders to practice your skills on a daily basis. This can be more useful than you might think, as the application will help you turn the practice into a daily habit.

The built-in journal of the CareClinic health app can be used as a DBT diary, allowing you to track urges and moods. You can mention whether and when you used the DBT skills and how you felt overall.

You can add the day or date of each behavior or urge, along the emotions you’ve experienced and actions taken. For each entry, mention the skills you resorted to and the triggers behind the urges. You might also mention whether you resorted to medication and other substances.

Once you begin to fill in your diary regularly and faithfully, you will have a clearer image of your experience. You will be able to evaluate your progress, keeping daily records of the skills that were used. In time, you will no longer struggled with emotional sensitivity and become healthier from a mental point of view. After all, DBT teaches how to accept and embrace change, using coping skills for dealing with strong emotions.

Coping skills – four main categories:

Interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance

As part of the therapy sessions, whether individual or group-based, you will learn a number of skills. These are meant to help you deal with strong emotions and improve your mental health.

The coping skills are divided into four main categories, meaning interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance. Below, you will find a couple examples from each category.


  • Wide mind
  • Observe
  • Describe
  • Participate
  • Loving kindness
Emotion regulation

  • Identifying primary emotions
  • Problem solving
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Managing extreme emotions
  • Nightmare protocol
Interpersonal effectiveness

  • Objective effectiveness
  • Relationship effectiveness
  • Self-respect effectiveness
  • Options for intensity
  • Pros and cons of using IE skills
Distress tolerance

  • STOP skill
  • TIP skills
  • Self-soothing
  • Sensory awareness
  • Radical acceptance

Note: there are separate skills from the distress tolerance to be mastered, when the crisis is addiction (e.g. dialectical abstinence, reinforcing non-addictive behaviors, adaptive denial etc.).

Interpersonal effectiveness

This is related to the way we interact with other people, particularly when we find ourselves in a highly emotional situation. Being in a situation that is clearly perceived as difficult, with a risk of suffering, it is quite useful to possess skills that help us cope in an effective manner. You will learn to prioritize goals, thinking and acting without giving into emotions and no longer expecting validation from others.

Distress tolerance

This category includes the skills that help us accept, tolerate and learn from negative situations. What matters is that we do not avoid the suffering or the pain, as sometimes these are unavoidable, but that we deal with them effectively. You are turning your mind towards another direction, showing willingness to make a change and embrace things as they are.

Emotion regulation

People who suffer from personality or mood disorders struggle with regulating their emotions and this is why they need help. The therapist might teach them how to identify and label experienced emotions, as well as identify obstacles to making changes. Additional skills can involve reducing vulnerability to emotion, increasing positive emotional events and mindfulness to current emotions.


Mindfulness regards a number of skills that teach us to live in the present, worrying less about the past or the future. The core skills are simple – to observe, describe and participate in the present activities. What matters is that we refrain from being judgmental and instead acting as observers, learning from everything that happens.

What is DBT?

DBT is a type of therapy that focuses on the development of coping skills for the adequate management of strong emotions. It is based on a powerful collaboration between the therapist and the person receiving the therapy, including both individual and group-based sessions.

The dialectical behavioral therapy was initially developed for those who were experiencing suicidal thoughts. However, as time passed, it transformed into a treatment for anyone who needs to cope with strong emotions. We are talking about those who suffer from dysfunctional emotional regulation, as it happens in those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. It has also shown promising results in those who suffer from eating disorders or substance abuse.

Individual session – work as a team with the therapist

Individual sessions are organized, in which the therapist will direct the attention towards negative behaviors involving self-destruction or self-harm. These sessions allow the therapist to get to the root of the problem and find out why this worrisome behavior has occurred. Treatment goals are discussed accordingly, along the skills that should be used whenever such behaviors reoccur.

The main goal is to work as a team with the therapist, focusing on developing the most effective coping skills for highly emotional situations. In return, this will contribute to a better quality of life and it might help with additional issues, such as the post-traumatic stress disorder.

Group therapy – weekly sessions

Group therapy is part of the DBT journey, being organized on a weekly basis. They are meant to help with skill building, taking part under the guidance of the therapist. Skills from the four main categories are explored and developed, so that one is able to apply these in the daily life.

When taking part in group therapy sessions, one can understand that he/she is not alone and that other people struggle when it comes to dealing with strong emotions as well. Group therapy can be particularly useful for those who are just at the beginning of their DBT journey, being also useful for the development of valuable social skills.

How To Use a DBT Diary

CareClinic is an app that you can download for free on your mobile, available on both iOS and Android. You can put your trust on it to pursue your DBT journey and improve your health, discovering the value of mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance.

Thanks to the consistent recording within the application, you can clearly see how you have grown and improved. The journal will contain everything about your journey, allowing you to stay focused on reaching your treatment goals. You can trust the app to practice your skills and improve your self-care abilities.

As you track your emotions and behavior, you will also notice how much progress you have made. Such applications offer structure and many people find them to be the best solution for tracking emotions, without feeling overwhelmed. Moreover, they appreciate having all of the necessary skills in one place, accessible at any moment one might need them.

CareClinic can help Manage Difficult Emotions

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that we all experience difficult emotions, as these are part of being human. However, when these emotions cause significant pain, it is essential to seek out help. The dialectical behavioral therapy is highly useful, allowing use to cope with strong emotions and make productive changes in our lives.

With the help of this therapy, we are learning skills that we can fall back on when feeling overwhelmed. As for the CareClinic health app, this helps us observe and record the progress we have made. We can use it to identify the coping strategies that worked best and the changes that we can make to improve the quality of life. If you are ready to get started, you can download the app by clicking the banner below.

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Alexandra V.