DBT Increasing Positive Emotions

In the realm of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), one of the key components is the practice of accumulating positive emotions. This concept is particularly relevant as a homework assignment in DBT skills training classes, where participants are encouraged to engage in activities that foster positive emotional experiences. The aim is to build a reservoir of positive emotions that can buffer against negative emotions and stress. This article provides an overview of how individuals can integrate this practice into their daily lives.

DBT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that emphasizes balancing acceptance and change. It helps individuals learn to manage difficult emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. Accumulating positive emotions is part of the emotion regulation module in DBT, which focuses on understanding and changing emotions that cause problems.

Daily Practice of Accumulating Positive Emotions

Identify Activities That Spark Joy: The first step is to recognize activities that inherently bring joy, satisfaction, or a sense of accomplishment. These could range from reading, engaging in a hobby, spending time in nature, to socializing with friends.

Mindfulness in Pleasant Activities: Engaging in these activities mindfully means being fully present and aware during the experience, rather than being distracted or disengaged. This enhances the intensity and quality of the positive emotions experienced.

Regular Scheduling: Consistency is key. Incorporating these joy-sparking activities into one’s daily routine ensures a steady stream of positive experiences. Even on busy days, dedicating a few minutes to a pleasant activity can be beneficial.

Overcoming Barriers: It’s common to encounter internal or external barriers, such as negative thoughts or lack of time. Identifying and strategizing around these barriers is crucial. For instance, setting realistic goals or challenging negative thoughts that undermine the enjoyment of activities.

Reflection and Appreciation: After engaging in a positive activity, reflecting on the experience and acknowledging the positive emotions felt can reinforce the benefits. Gratitude journals or sharing experiences with others can be effective ways to deepen the appreciation.

Balancing Short-term and Long-term Pleasures: While it’s important to engage in activities that bring immediate joy, it’s equally vital to invest in long-term goals that yield enduring satisfaction and meaning.


The practice of accumulating positive emotions is a powerful tool in the DBT skillset. It encourages individuals to proactively engage in activities that enhance their emotional well-being. By regularly incorporating these practices into daily life, individuals can create a buffer against negative emotions and enhance their overall resilience. As with any skill, the key to mastery is practice, reflection, and persistence. In the context of a DBT skills training class, this homework assignment not only offers an opportunity to practice these skills but also to experience firsthand the benefits of cultivating positive emotional experiences.