Dialectical Behavioral Therapy’s Interpersonal Effectiveness skills are designed to help you get what you need from your relationships while being respectful to yourself and others. Interpersonal relationships can be very challenging when you are also dealing with unstable emotions. As a consequence, many of us struggle to maintain healthy relationships. This module will help you attend to your relationships.

The following skills will help you

  • Take care of your relationships
  • Balance your needs with others’ demands
  • Balance your “wants” with your “shoulds”
  • Build mastery and self-respect

Everyone has these skills to a certain extent. We are all at least somewhat able to ask for something or say no. For example, you might be able to say no to more water at a restaurant but not to a friend asking for a favor. Maybe you have these skills but aren’t sure when to use them. In order to sort out which skills to use and when to use them, you need to know what your goals are in a situation.

There are three types of goals:

  • Objective Effectiveness: obtain something you want
  • Relationship Effectiveness: maintain or improve a relationship
  • Self-Respect Effectiveness: maintain your self-respect

In most circumstances, you’ll have more than one goal in a situation. You may have all three. If the other person is important to you, you’ll want to maintain the relationship while obtaining something you want. And you’ll probably want to keep your self-respect in the process. The skills for each goal can be used simultaneously.

It is crucial to practice these skills. Practice them with your therapist. Practice them with strangers, with loved ones, with pets. If a situation arises where you can ask for something or say no, do so skillfully. If nothing arises, dream up a situation to practice. Go to a store and ask for something. Don’t wait for a situation where you can practice, actively search one out. DBT is learned by doing.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy‘s Interpersonal Effectiveness skills are designed to help you get...

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Additional Resources

Mental Health Resources

We aren't the only mental health resource out there. Check out these books, websites, social media accounts, and more for additional support. Read More

DBT Flashcards

Making DBT skills second nature takes practice. Use these flashcards on their page, download your own to print out, or purchase our pre-made set from our shop. Read More

DBT Encyclopedia

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Mindfulness Exercises

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Diary Cards

Diary cards help track your emotions, urges, behaviors, and skill use. They help you see patterns. Learn how to use them and get samples. Read More