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DBT Mindfulness "What" Skills (PDF)

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The DBT “What” skills refer to ways of practicing thinking, or “what” you do to practice mindfulness. These skills have three main categories: observing through body senses, describing or labeling the experience without judgment, and participating with awareness to live in the present moment. The “what” skills play a role in promoting emotional balance and providing clarity and wisdom rather than being driven by habitual patterns of thinking.

The DBT Mindfulness "What" Skills handout presents the three main “What” skills categories and offers a simple explanation for each. For example, the observe skill reminds clients to notice the present moment without attaching words to it or making assumptions. It also includes illustrations to reinforce each skill so they can be easily remembered.

Using this handout helps kids and teens to quiet their minds, learn to label their emotions, and make the most out of their experiences. For example, they can have a stroll in the park and appreciate the beauty of nature, describe what they’re seeing, and just fully enjoy the moment.

This handout pairs well with our DBT “What” Skills Worksheets, to provide an opportunity to apply and reflect upon each skill. Our 1-page observe, describe, and participate handouts are also helpful add-ons.

*This item is an instant digital download. A link to download your files will be emailed to you once payment is confirmed.

Want more resources like this? Check out our full catalog of DBT worksheets and handouts.


  1. De La Fuente Anuncibay, R., González-Barbadillo, Á., Sánchez, D. O., & Pizarro-Ruiz, J. P. (2020c). Mindfulness and Empathy: Mediating factors and gender differences in a Spanish sample. Frontiers in Psychology, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01915
  2. Mitchell, R., Roberts, R., Bartsch, D. R., & Sullivan, T. (2019). Changes in mindfulness facets in a dialectical behaviour therapy skills training group program for borderline personality disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75(6), 958–969. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22744
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  • Size: 8.5" x 11"

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