How to Use Diary Cards on Your DBT Journey (Two Templates Inside!)

Jan 17
7 min read

Like all skills, mastering Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) requires consistent practice over time. Given the complexity of emotions and scenarios that DBT helps its students navigate, gauging progress can be challenging without a clear, objective measure. This is where Diary Cards come in.

Diary Cards offer you a structured approach to track your growth, uncover patterns, and spotlight areas needing your focus. Use them to track the DBT skills you use each week, customize them with your unique goals, and get objective, data-driven feedback on how you are progressing. 

We’ve created two robust and comprehensive Diary Card templates for you, and we’re very excited to share them! Your job is to keep your Diary Card regularly updated. Doing so, you deepen your engagement with your therapy, forging connections between your behaviors, thoughts, and the efficacy of DBT skills in managing life's stressful situations. 

I know you’re excited to begin, but first,  which template should you choose?

Your Basic or Advanced DBT Diary Card Template, Brought to You by TheraHive

TheraHive is excited to share two comprehensive DBT Diary Card templates that have been carefully designed by our expert team. One is for advanced students confident in the complexities of the skillset, and the other is for beginners just starting out. Both are friendly and even fun — they’ll work out calculations for you, providing a visual representation of the progress you’re making over time. 

Here’s a quick overview of the difference between the two templates, as well as the links you need to get started with your chosen version.

Basic Diary Card Template:

  • Designed for: Individuals new to DBT or those preferring a more streamlined approach.
  • Features: Tracks top-level DBT skills like mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. It allows for recording problem behaviors, urges, actions, and overall skill usage.
  • Benefits: Easier to fill out, focusing on broad categories of skills, making it ideal for beginners or those looking for a less detailed tracking method.

Expert Diary Card Template:

  • Designed for: Individuals with a deeper understanding of DBT or those in advanced stages of their practice.
  • Features: Offers detailed tracking of specific DBT skills within the larger categories, such as individual mindfulness practices or specific distress tolerance techniques.
  • Benefits: Provides a more granular view of skill usage, allowing for precise monitoring and refinement of DBT skills application. Ideal for those who want to delve into the specifics of their practice.

How to Use Your Chosen Template

Both templates are easy to use, and these steps will apply for both the Basic and Expert versions:

  • Step 1: Make a Copy: Sign into your Google account and make a copy of the Diary Card template. This ensures you have a fresh slate each month to track your progress.
  • Step 2: Setup:  Enter the start date, define up to five problem behaviors, up to three goals, and select the DBT skills you aim to focus on. This step is crucial for tailoring the Diary Card to your journey.
  • Step 3: Daily Tracking: For each day, note any urges to engage in problem behaviors, rate their intensity, and whether any actions were taken. Record any relevant emotional or physical sensations. Check off the DBT skills you utilized that day, providing a simple way to see which techniques you are applying and how frequently.
  • Step 4: Review and Reflect: Both templates include a monthly progress report that visualizes your data, offering insights into your practice over time. This report highlights the skills used most, progress towards goals, and areas for further development.

Access The DBT Diary Card Templates Here

This is just version #1 and we see opportunities to make this even better — we will be updating the template based on feedback, so check back here every now and then to get the latest version.

Accountability You Can Count On

The key to leveraging this tool effectively lies in consistent, honest tracking. By integrating these cards into your daily routine, you can gain a clearer understanding of your behavioral patterns, emotional triggers, and the DBT skills that most effectively address your needs. Over time you’ll find that filling in your Diary Card becomes a daily habit — like brushing your teeth, This approach helps you not only stay aligned with your therapy goals but also enhances your ability to navigate complex emotions with more awareness and skill. 

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