Using DBT Skills in Anti-Racist Work

#29: Using DBT Skills in Anti-Racist Work

Today Marielle and Ed offer ways to use DBT skills to support emotional equilibrium during a time where systemic anti-black racism is being confronted and discussed in new and necessary ways.

This episode is not about how to be anti-racist. That’s beyond what we can provide. The resources below serve as a starting point to learn more. Rather, this episode focuses on skills to help you find your emotional footing during a time of national tumult around race. This work deeply aligns with our values as therapists. Racism is a mental health issue and its impact may be easy to dismiss if we aren’t a member of a targeted group.

We recognize that our lens as white therapists limits us and that there is a lot we may get wrong. In the spirit of DBT, we want to approach what’s hard, rather than avoid.

Show Highlights

  • Bringing mindful awareness to your experience of race and racism 
  • Noticing and naming where you are as a starting point 
  • Witnessing police brutality can be very evocative, particularly if you are a trauma survivor
  • You might be scared, overwhelmed, or destabilized 
  • The importance of not judging your experience
  • Not judging your experience doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge the helpful and the harmful, we just do it without judgment
  • To have racist conditioning is not a personal failing – it’s the soup we are swimming in
  • Am I in my Wise Mind? Or is it more Emotion Mind talking?
  • Finding a balance between emotion and reason
  • For those who are targeted by racism, strong emotion can be necessary and protective
  • Dismantling racism is long term work 
  • Check the Facts: What are the facts vs. my own judgment or unexamined beliefs (that aren’t necessarily factual)?
  • Getting more facts about how racism works in our world and the history of racism in the U.S.
  • Looking at our unexamined assumptions
  • Guilt fits the facts when our behavior violates our own values or moral code
  • How can I use the emotion to spur effective action?
  • Opposite action is useful when you feel like there is nothing you can do to change things. 
  • Radical Acceptance expands possibilities for change 
  • Radical Acceptance does not equal approval, compassion or passivity 
  • When Radical Acceptance feels out of reach, use the skill called Turning the Mind

Links & Resources

Anti-racist reading list 

Movies about race

DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition

Ask us a Question

We’d love to hear from you! Where are you getting stuck with your skills application? Ask us a question for the chance to have it answered on the podcast. Submit your question here. 

Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment.