For those that read up on my crash course blurb of what DBT is (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) today’s food for thought will explore the Mindfulness DBT concept of Wise Mind a little further. As you can see from a graphic pulled from therapist aid, wise mind is the intersection between the emotional mind and the reasonable mind (also referred to often as the logical mind or the rational mind). Often we may gravitate to one side or the other, dismissing the other mindset.
Emotional Mind: “you are ruled by your moods, feelings, and urges to do or say things. Facts, reason and logic are not important” (Linehan, p.50)
Reasonable/Rational/Logical Mind: “you are ruled by facts, reason, logic, and pragmatics. Values, and feelings are not important” (Linehan, p.50)
Wise Mind: “seeing the value of both reason, and emotion,” (Linehan, p.50) asking and inquiring the urges in both the reasonable and emotional mind and proceeding with balance to reduce suffering.
Wise Mind is coming to a place where we can rationalize AND include being present with our emotions. For example, say I get in a fight with a friend. In my emotional mind, I may withdraw or feel stuck in my sadness about the situation, or I may be angry and lash out. In the reasonable mind, I may push that feeling aside and continue my day, I may minimize how I’m feeling to resolve the conflict at the cost of my self respect, and the sadness may come up unexpectedly later on. Alternatively, I could pause, check in with myself and make a decision that isn’t ONLY driven by emotion, but takes emotion into account. One example of this may be that I acknowledge that I feel sad about the situation and choose to call a different friend and get support before returning to the conflict, that may be a wise mind action.
Wise mind is considered a mindfulness skill within DBT. We can strengthen our mindfulness through observing, describing and participating in the present moment. It’s important to acknowledge if we are in an emotional mind or reasonable mind, nonjudgmentally. These mindsets are commonplace, we have all fallen into one mindset or another. Where in the diagram do you see yourself most often and how might you bring Wise Mind into your life going forward?
Linehan, Marsha. DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. 2nd ed., The Guilford Press, 2015.
Starting next month, Vera will be leading online support groups that teach Dialectical Behavior Training skills. Please see the group programs page on our website for more information.
Vera Bednar, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200) and certified in dialectical behavioral therapy (C-DBT). A Lesley University graduate, Vera earned a bachelor's in counseling and art therapy and a master's in clinical mental health counseling with a specialization in trauma.
Prior to joining Looking Glass Counseling, Vera worked in a wide variety of clinical settings including inpatient, residential, intensive outpatient and an assisted living center with an art therapy focus. She also worked in partial hospitalization programs specializing in trauma, LGBTQIA+ individuals and young adult transitions as well as substance use.