An introduction to DBT

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. It is particularly effective for individuals struggling with emotional regulation or exhibiting self-destructive behaviors. DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice.

DBT is often used to treat borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It focuses on four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. The therapy aims to help individuals understand and accept their difficult feelings, learn managing skills, improve relationships, and live a mindful, present life.

Printable ‎DBT Diary Card

Download this ‎DBT Diary Card to track emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and use of DBT skills throughout the week.

Understanding DBT Diary Cards

DBT Diary Cards are a fundamental component of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Clients use them to track their emotions, thoughts, behaviors, and use of DBT skills throughout the week. These cards are versatile tools that can be customized to each individual's therapy goals and needs.

The primary purpose of a DBT Diary Card is to bring awareness to behaviors that are targeted in therapy and to track progress. Clients record various aspects of their daily experiences, including mood intensity, urges (like self-harm or substance use), and actions taken in response to these urges. They also note the DBT skills they've used each day. This consistent tracking helps clients and therapists to identify patterns, triggers, and the effectiveness of different coping strategies.

How does this DBT Diary Card work?

Our printable DBT Diary Card is typically filled out daily by the client. It includes sections for emotional states, urges, behaviors, and DBT skill usage. The client rates each item based on their experiences throughout the day. This might include rating the intensity of emotions, the frequency of urges, and the effectiveness of skills used.

The card is reviewed in each therapy session, providing a basis for discussion and further exploration. It helps the therapist understand the client's week, see how well they use DBT skills, track them, and identify areas needing more focus. The diary card is a collaborative tool, with both the therapist and client using it to guide the therapy process.

DBT Diary Card example (sample)

For therapists and clients new to DBT, a sample DBT Diary Card PDF can be a helpful guide. This example includes a typical layout of a diary card, with spaces to record emotions, urges, behaviors, and skill use. It can be customized to suit the client's specific needs and preferences or the therapy's focus.

Download this free DBT Diary Card example here 

DBT Diary Card example (sample)

The benefits of using this DBT Diary Card

The use of our free DBT Diary Cards in therapy offers several benefits:

  • Enhanced self-awareness: Regularly tracking emotions and behaviors helps clients become more aware of their patterns and triggers.
  • Improved skill utilization: By noting which DBT skills are used, clients can see which strategies are most effective.
  • Facilitates open communication: The diary card is a starting point for therapy discussion, encouraging honesty and openness.
  • Monitors progress: Diary cards can show trends and improvements over time, providing motivation and a sense of accomplishment.

Research and evidence

The effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, particularly for individuals with borderline personality disorder, is well-supported by research. Studies have shown that DBT can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of self-harming behaviors, decrease the rate of hospitalization, and improve overall functioning (Linehan, 1993; Linehan et al., 2006). The use of tools like DBT Diary Cards is integral to this success.

DBT Diary Cards help apply and integrate the skills learned in therapy into daily life. They encourage consistent practice and mindfulness, key components of DBT therapy. The structured approach provided by these cards allows for a more focused and effective therapy process, leading to better client outcomes.

Why use Carepatron as your DBT software?

Carepatron is an ideal DBT software for its comprehensive features that streamline the therapy process. It offers digital diary cards for easy monitoring of client progress, secure client communication, and efficient tracking of therapy sessions. The platform's user-friendly design ensures therapists and clients can effortlessly navigate and use its features, enhancing the therapy experience.

Integrating digital diary cards allows therapists to quickly access and review relevant client entries, aiding in tracking progress and making informed therapy decisions. Carepatron's strong commitment to security and confidentiality ensures all client data is protected, meeting the highest privacy and data protection standards.

For therapists seeking to optimize and manage their practice while delivering effective DBT, Carepatron provides a secure, versatile, and user-friendly practice management solution. Its tailored support for the unique requirements of DBT makes it an invaluable asset in both individual and group therapy contexts.

practice management software


Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. Guilford Press.

Linehan, M. M., Comtois, K. A., Murray, A. M., Brown, M. Z., Gallop, R. J., Heard, H. L., ... & Lindenboim, N. (2006). Two-year randomized controlled trial and follow-up of dialectical behavior therapy vs. therapy by experts for suicidal behaviors and borderline personality disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63(7), 757-766.

What is a DBT Diary Card?
What is a DBT Diary Card?

Commonly asked questions

What is a DBT Diary Card?

A DBT Diary Card is a tracking tool used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy to monitor and record emotions, behaviors, and skill usage, aiding in therapy progress.

How does a DBT Diary Card help in therapy?

It helps clients and therapists track daily emotions and behaviors, identify patterns, and develop and tailor therapy strategies.

Can Carepatron's software integrate with DBT Diary Cards?

Carepatron supports digital diary cards, enhancing the DBT process with efficient tracking and secure client communication.

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