DBT Skills: Improve Your Relationships and Maintain Your Self-Respect

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Improve Your Relationships and Maintain Your Self-Respect

by Trenna Ahlstrom

One of the major components of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is Interpersonal Effectiveness, or improving your relationship with other people. One set of strategies that will allow you to improve your relationship with other people is represented by the acronym GIVE FAST. GIVE Skills are designed to help you maintain healthy relationships. FAST Skills are designed to help you preserve your self-respect when you interact with other people.

GIVE Skills

G – The G is a reminder to be gentle.  This means being nice and respectful. Avoid verbal and physical attacks. Also, avoid gestures that could be threatening or insulting. For example, do not clench your fists, smirk, roll your eyes, or suck your teeth.

I – The I stands for interested, as in, “Act interested.”  Whether or not you are genuinely interested in the other person’s point of view, do your best to act interested by facing the other person and maintain eye contact. Do your best not to interrupt or talk over the other person.

V – The V stands for validate. Validating someone means that you show them you understand their point of view and why they think the things that they do.

E – The E is a reminder to use an easy manner. Smile! If you can, use humor.

FAST Skills

F – The F in FAST represents fair. It is important to be fair to other people, however, it is equally important to be fair to yourself. Appreciate your own worth and your own needs.

A – The A stands for don’t over-apologize. This does not mean that you must stop apologizing if you have genuinely done something wrong. It means do not apologize for asking for something you need, having an opinion, or disagreeing. It also means that you should not look apologetic by letting your shoulders slump or keeping your eyes downcast.

S – The S is a reminder to stick to your own values. Clearly, communicate what you believe, and do not be afraid to “stick to your guns” when it comes to your values.

T – The T stands for truthful. Do not lie. Lying to get what you want not only has the potential to compromise your relationship with the other person, lying also compromises your own self-respect.

Marsha Linehan developed DBT to help chronically suicidal patients who had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Since DBT was first developed, it has been proven effective for the treatment of substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders. GIVE Skills and FAST Skills are only a small, but valuable, part of DBT. For more information about DBT, please visit The Linehan Institute [Link: https://linehaninstitute.org/].