Mindfulness DBT Skills: The Complete List

DBT is made up of 4 core modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Each module is made up of different “skills” to help individuals who struggle with emotional dysregulation, self-destructive behaviors, and challenging interpersonal relationships enhance their quality of life.

Mindfulness DBT Skills

What are Mindfulness DBT Skills?

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the Mindfulness module includes several sub-skills that are designed to help individuals develop greater awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and experiences in the present moment.

The mindfulness DBT module is a hugely important part of DBT, as these mindfulness skills can help the individual identify feelings, emotions, and urges. From this point, they can then identify what skills from other modules that they can use to help their current situation.

Mindfully Drinking Tea

The Mindfulness DBT Skills

There are 6 key sub skills taught in the mindfulness module during DBT. Of which these skills are broken down into 2 further sub categories; WHAT Skills and HOW Skills.

The DBT WHAT Skills

The DBT WHAT skills consist of 3 steps to help you identify, describe, and move forward into a situation mindfully and free of judgement.


The observe involves paying close attention to your internal and external experiences free of judgment. It includes observing thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and the environment as they occur.


The describe skill is the ability to put words to your observations. It’s about labeling and describing thoughts and feelings in a nonjudgmental and objective manner. This helps individuals clarify their experiences and communicate effectively with others.


Participating fully in the present moment means being fully engaged in whatever you are doing. It involves immersing yourself in your activities rather than being preoccupied with past regrets or future worries.

Thinking about starting DBT? Learn more about our online DBT courses here.

The DBT HOW Skills

The DBT HOW skills are what we use to help us move forward into a situation or experience. They’re here to help ensure what we’re doing is free of judgement, mindful, and effective for our current circumstances.


Non-judgmental awareness is a core principle of mindfulness. It involves refraining from labeling experiences as “good” or “bad”, or by pushing our own judgements on a thing or situation. Instead, individuals practice accepting their experiences without evaluating or criticising them.


This sub-skill emphasizes focusing on one thing at a time. It encourages us to give our full attention to the current task or experience, which can help reduce distraction, increase effectiveness, and help us appreciate the smaller things in life.


This skill is about doing what works versus sitting and wishing things were different than what they are. When we’re not focused on doing what’s practical, we act in more emotional ways, or where we’re more focused on proving someone wrong or being right, which can ultimately get in the way of getting what we need. 

To conclude

Incorporating mindfulness DBT skills into your life can be a transformative journey toward greater emotional well-being and improved relationships. By practicing skills like observing, describing, and participating mindfully, you can gain better control over your emotions and reactions, ultimately leading to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Remember that developing mindfulness DBT skills takes time and practice, so be patient with yourself as you embark on this journey of self-discovery and growth. The benefits of mindfulness are well worth the effort.

If you are interested in learning more about the skills in DBT, we have more DBT related content planned for the future. Be sure to bookmark our site and come back in the future to learn more about DBT!

Thinking about starting DBT? Learn more about our online DBT courses here.

About The Author

Picture of Ashleigh Wykes

Ashleigh Wykes

Accredited by the UK Association of Psychological Therapies, Ashleigh is our DBT lead and part of our outreach and mental health support team.

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