What is the DBT Journal?

The DBT Journal, rooted in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), is an incredibly accessible program designed to support mindful skills practice for individuals seeking to manage intense emotions and lead fulfilling lives. Developed by a renowned DBT therapist and expert, it is a practical and thoughtful journal incorporating the four core DBT skills: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.

This invaluable resource is a brief skills toolkit and a skill-learning journey, providing clients with renowned mental health in a structured and facilitated manner to develop lifelong skills. The journal is particularly beneficial for those dealing with severe emotion regulation problems, as well as mental health disorders, offering a comprehensive approach to overall well-being.

The DBT Journal is designed for both DBT novices and healthcare professionals. Its writing prompts and daily written reflections guide users to build greater self-awareness, manage overwhelming emotions, and cultivate better emotion control. Including a DBT skills trainer makes the resource suitable for individuals working independently or as part of a therapy group.

The journal covers various aspects of DBT, including behavior chain analysis, compassion meditation, and emotion regulation. It is not limited to clinical settings but can be utilized in private practice, university continuing education courses, and even within book clubs for early access. The practicality of the journal extends to online dialectical behavior therapy, making it an incredibly accessible tool for anyone looking to navigate life's challenges and develop a more fulfilling life and lasting sense of well-being.

How does it work?

The DBT Journal is a thoughtful, practical, and user-friendly resource that guides individuals through developing and applying Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills. Here's a breakdown of how it works:

  • Download and access: Start by downloading the DBT Journal. You can download the digital copy or print it out.
  • Introduction section: Start with the introductory section, familiarizing yourself with the fundamental principles of DBT and the journal's purpose.
  • Daily engagement: Engage with the daily prompts, responding thoughtfully and reflecting on personal experiences, emotions, and challenges.
  • Skill application: Apply the DBT skills in real-life situations as prompted, with the journal serving as a practical tool for skill development.
  • Progress tracking: Use the journal to track progress over time, noting improvements in emotional regulation, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being.
  • Consistent practice: Consistency is critical. Make it a habit to use the journal daily to reinforce the application of DBT skills in everyday life.
  • Resource for support: Utilize the journal as a self-help tool or as part of a therapy group, enhancing its versatility in supporting different learning preferences and settings.

When to use the DBT Journal Template

The DBT Journal template is an indispensable tool for specific contexts where intentional skills practice and emotional regulation are paramount. Here's when to leverage this resource:

  1. DBT sessions: Incorporate the DBT Journal in therapy sessions to facilitate and reinforce skill learning between formal sessions. It enhances the therapeutic process by offering a practical application of DBT skills in real-life scenarios.
  2. Between therapy sessions: Encourage clients to use the journal between therapy sessions. This fosters continuous engagement with DBT skills, ensuring consistent practice and application in everyday situations.
  3. Mental health care settings: Integrate the DBT Journal into mental health care plans. It becomes a valuable resource for clients dealing with intense emotions, allowing them to participate actively in their journey toward well-being.
  4. Supplement to university continuing education courses: Incorporate the DBT Journal in university continuing education courses focused on DBT. It provides a hands-on, practical component to theoretical learning, allowing students to apply skills in real-life contexts.
  5. Self-help and personal development: Use the DBT Journal independently for personal growth. Individuals navigating overwhelming emotions or seeking self-awareness can employ the journal as a daily companion for mindful skills practice and emotional regulation.
  6. Online DBT: Adapt the DBT Journal to online therapy settings. Online DBT novices and clients can effectively utilize the resource for guided skill practice, bringing DBT principles into their everyday lives.
  7. Group settings and book clubs: Employ the DBT Journal in group settings, such as therapy groups or book clubs. It is a common framework for discussion, enabling participants to share experiences and insights while collectively building greater self-awareness.

What do the results mean?

The utilization of the DBT Journal often yields several expected results, each carrying significant implications for individuals engaging in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and mindful skills practice:

  1. Increased self-awareness: Regular engagement with the DBT Journal prompts individuals to reflect on their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The result is an enhanced self-awareness, as users gain deeper insights into the patterns and triggers influencing their emotional responses.
  2. Improved emotional regulation: One of the primary goals of DBT is to develop practical emotional regulation skills. Through consistent use of the journal, individuals can observe improvements in their ability to identify, understand, and manage intense emotions, leading to a greater sense of emotional control.
  3. Enhanced interpersonal effectiveness: The journal's focus on interpersonal effectiveness exercises contributes to improved communication and relationship skills. Users may experience more successful interactions and navigate challenging social situations with increased confidence and adaptability.
  4. Application of mindfulness in daily life: Individuals cultivate mindfulness through daily prompts and reflections. This heightened awareness of the present moment contributes to reduced reactivity, increased focus, and an overall sense of balance in navigating life's challenges.
  5. Positive behavior change: Users may observe positive changes in their behavior as they consistently apply DBT skills to real-life situations. This can manifest as reducing impulsive actions, healthier coping mechanisms, and a more remarkable ability to respond effectively to stressors.
  6. Strengthened distress tolerance: Individuals develop resilience through guided distress tolerance exercises in challenging circumstances. Results may include a greater capacity to endure difficult emotions without resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
  7. Documentation of progress: The journal provides a tangible record of an individual's progress over time. Reviewing past entries allows users to recognize achievements, identify areas for further growth, and celebrate milestones in their DBT skill learning journey.
  8. Fulfillment of lifelong skills: Consistent use of the DBT Journal ultimately contributes to fulfilling lifelong skills. Individuals with enhanced self-awareness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness are better positioned to navigate life's complexities and pursue a more fulfilling, balanced, and resilient existence.

Research and evidence

The DBT Journal draws its foundations from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a therapeutic approach Dr. Marsha M. Linehan developed in the late 1980s. Dr. Linehan, a clinical and forensic psychologist, initially designed DBT to address severe emotion regulation problems, particularly in individuals with borderline personality disorder. Over the years, DBT has expanded to encompass a wide range of other mental health disorders and challenges related to emotion dysregulation (Reddy & Vijay, 2017).

The DBT Journal reflects DBT training and principles' evolution into a practical and accessible format. Its development aligns with the broader recognition of incorporating skills training and mindfulness practices into mental health care. As DBT gained recognition for its effectiveness, the need for tools that support the application of DBT skills in daily life became apparent (Linehan & Wilks, 2015).

Research studies have consistently highlighted the efficacy of DBT in improving emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and overall well-being. The structured nature of the DBT Journal aligns with evidence-based practices within DBT, providing users with a guided and systematic approach to skill development.

Moreover, applying DBT principles in guided journaling has enhanced treatment outcomes (Mae & Mae, 2023). Research has shown that individuals who engage in regular self-monitoring and reflection, as facilitated by journaling, experience improved treatment adherence and symptom reduction.

While specific research on the DBT Journal may be limited, its design and content align with the broader evidence base supporting the effectiveness of in-practice DBT. As an extension of DBT principles, the journal is positioned as a practical and thoughtful resource, drawing on decades of research and clinical experience to provide individuals with a structured means of developing and applying lifelong skills for emotional well-being (Shea, 2020).


Linehan, M. M., & Wilks, C. R. (2015). The course and Evolution of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 69(2), 97–110. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.2015.69.2.97

Mae, E., & Mae, E. (2023, June 25). 10 DBT Journal Prompts for Emotional Regulation and Mindfulness - Coloringfolder.com. Coloringfolder.com. https://coloringfolder.com/dbt-journal-prompts/

Reddy, M. S., & Vijay, M. S. (2017). The empirical reality of dialectical Behavioral therapy in borderline personality. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 39(2), 105–108. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijpsym.ijpsym_132_17

Shea, L. (2020). The courage to be: Using DBT skills to choose who to be in uncertainty. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 61(2), 260–274. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022167820950887

What is a DBT Journal?
What is a DBT Journal?

Commonly asked questions

What is a DBT Journal?

A DBT journal is a guided tool based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) principles, helping individuals practice and apply skills for better emotional regulation and overall well-being.

What does DBT stand for?

DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a therapeutic approach Dr. Marsha M. Linehan developed to address intense emotions and improve interpersonal effectiveness.

What are the skills of the DBT team when journaling?

DBT journaling focuses on four core skills: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance, promoting self-awareness and the skills building more effective coping strategies.

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