DBT and Eating Disorders Prevention

DBT and Eating Disorders Prevention

DBT and Eating Disorders Prevention

I’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Sculley, who is a Licensed Professional Counselor and an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician. I supervised Rebecca while she was working towards licensure, and co-facilitated some of her first DBT Skills Groups. She is a knowledgeable and compassionate therapist, who is passionate about helping people thrive during life transitions. Rebecca currently meets with clients at her offices in Boulder and Denver, Colorado. To contact Rebecca, please see the bottom of article.
– Dr. Dorie

Have you been wanting to change your relationship with food, but feel stuck or hopeless? In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to assist people to find more freedom in their relationship with food by using simple DBT (Dialectal Behavior Therapy) skills.

Many people cope with stress and difficulties in life by turning to food as a coping mechanism. Some people may do this by binge eating, purging, or restricting foods. Many people engage in emotional eating as a way to numb their feelings, be able to feel something else instead of emotional pain or as a way to punish themselves. Does this help you get to a place in which you feel happy? Maybe for a few minutes tops. Then it becomes a dark and lonely place, most often worse off than when you started.

Instead of suffering, choose compassion for yourself by using DBT Skills, an easy way to take care of your body, mind and emotions! The first two components of DBT are Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness. Distress Tolerance is as simple as it sounds – finding new ways to tolerate stress that are healthy and safe – not detrimental to your physical and emotional health. Instead of turning towards or away from food to cope with life stressors pick an area in which to distract yourself. Here are a few ways to do this. First, distract yourself with a pleasurable activity. Below are a few suggestions:

  • Go for a walk
  • Go to a movie
  • Read a new juicy book
  • Do online research about a topic of interest
  • Get into a new or old TV show
  • Take a nap
  • Change your hairstyle
  • Organize your closet
  • Take a bath
  • Listen (and dance!) to music
  • Paint your nails
  • Play with an animal
  • Go shopping alone or with a friend
  • Do yard work or gardening

The list goes on and on – why not add some of your own activities to this list of distractions?

You can also distract yourself through thinking about other people. Try organizing a get together or a party for a loved one or co-worker, call a friend to tell them you are thinking about them, do an act of kindness for someone you know or ever a stranger by lending a hand to someone in need. Whatever you chose to do, you are sending a message to yourself that food does NOT control you, you have paused and made the conscious choice to do something nice for others rather than hurting yourself.

The next component of DBT that can help combat ED behavior is to practice Mindfulness. Maybe you have heard of this and it seems daunting. It doesn’t have to be! Here is a simple suggestion to kick off a mindfulness routine or to continue practicing one you may have in place. A key component to being Mindful is to practice being non-judgmental. You may find this hard to do at times, that’s ok, DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF. That’s the first place to start. By accepting yourself for who you are, what you look like and how you feel, no matter what is the hallmark in not judging others or other situations. Practice removing your own inner judgement by using Radical Acceptance Coping Statement (also part of Distress Tolerance). Here are a few to try:

  • It is what it is.
  • I love and honor myself no matter what.
  • I am doing my best.
  • There’s no use in fighting the past.
  • Even though I’ve made mistakes, I am still a good person.
  • I embrace all of my qualities.

Next, find a saying or mantra to say to yourself next time you want to binge or skip a meal, and choose YOU! Take several deep breaths and try saying:

  • I love my Self!
  • I am worthy of all I want!
  • I am healthy!
  • I am powerful!

Repeat this to yourself as many times as it takes to avoid making a hurtful choice. You have the power to start fresh and choose what you know in your heart and mind is best for you.


Looking for guidance with DBT SKILLS? Contact Rebecca Sculley, MA, NCC, LPC – the author of this blog article. She is an EDIT™ Certified III – Eating Disorder Treatment Clinician, and has a specialty in DBT Skills. Rebecca has office locations in Boulder and Denver, Colorado. – EMAIL REBECCA 

Interested in a FREE consultation with Dr. Dorie? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions.  She provides customized counseling for eating disorders and alcohol / drug addiction at her Positive Pathways treatment center in Evergreen, Colorado – and EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975EMAIL DR. DORIE