Do you have this book? 

This book presents you with a variety of ways to utilize DBT skills with music therapy interventions for use with groups and individual clients. It offers tangible assignments that the client can take home and do on their own. No musical background is required for them to successfully use the activities. 

  • Music therapists save time planning sessions with DBT informed interventions you can modify for your work with clients in your practice. Have handouts for client homework, and a resource to refer clients to who want to continue their learning and practicing of the skills through music activities upon discharge. 
  • DBT clinicians liven up the skills training experience and engage clients with different learning styles or those who are on their second or third cycle. No musical know how required.
  • Clients/participants in DBT can use the self help section as handouts for homework, to follow up on skills learned in DBT therapy, to provide continuity, to offer something upon discharge for practicing implementation of skills.
  • Anyone seeking personal growth can learn skills through the music based activities and lessons in the self-help section of the book.
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"Deborah does a masterful job of integrating DBT and music, which makes learning fun and interesting."

Miles Dial PhD

Chief of Psychology for Cognitive Behavioral Program at the Colorado Mental Health Institute 

"As a psychologist and life-long musician I've always wanted to better synthesize these two passions to help my patients. Spiegel, Makary, and Bonavitacola, show me (and now you) many effective and practical ways to creatively weave music into DBT! You do not need to be a musician or a psychologist to find these therapeutic activities immediately applicable to your patients, students, and colleagues who are practicing DBT.

Alec L. Miller, PsyD

Co-Founder and Clinical Director, CBC , White Plains, NY and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

This book is a useful source of ideas for DBT therapists who want to encorporate music into skills training groups."

Cedar Koons Msw LISW

Cofounder and Team Leader at Santa Fe Dialectical Behavior Therapy

"I wish I bought this book the first time I took the workshop .  I ordered it later.  Get it now!"

Jennifer Detterville MT-BC

Supervising Music Therapist at Napa State Hospital

Here is an Example:

The “what” skills are meant to help you find your wise mind. The what skills are to –  

Observe Describe Participate  


Listen to several songs in a row on a radio station so you have a variety of songs. While listening to the music, write down what you observe about the music. What instrument sounds do you hear? Were there violins or guitars? Drums? Was it loud? Fast or slow? Notice what emotion the song evokes in you, and how that emotion feels in your body. Do you have any urges or impulses to act as a result of this song? What thoughts does it bring up? You can even draw to the music.  

Write this down for 3 or 4 songs.  

A Skill you can take away from this:  

In this activity you were mindfully focused on what you observed, (taking in information at the sensory level, without description or labels), including what you heard in the music, your thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and urges, and then you described what you observed by putting it into words and describing it on the paper. If you followed the instructions to completion then you participated.  

The “what” skills are meant to help you find your wise mind. The way these skills work in a moment of distress is that through the act of mindfully observing what you notice in your surroundings, in your body, and in your mind, and in describing these observations, (your senses, thoughts, emotions, body sensations, and urges), you can step back from the urge to act immediately and instead make a wise choice in your behavior that is effective. You then participate in the present moment effectively and skillfully, doing what works.  


Questions to ponder: Have you ever had an experience of acting impulsively, without thinking about it and regretting it later?  

The time to use this skill is then. Before you act, notice the urge to act and get into your wise mind. Ask yourself, “Is this a wise minded choice?” Then choose the wise action and participate mindfully.  

How can you use this skill in your life?  

What situations might come up during your week where using the “what” skills to find your wise mind may be helpful?  


Roller Coaster Song I’m going to give you an example of how I used this skill in my life with the Roller Coaster Song… (this is in the actual lesson)

Action Step for this Week 

This week, practice observing, describing, and participating mindfully, (what to do to get to wise mind) starting out in everyday, low intensity moments. Over time, it will be become much easier to observe, describe, and participate in moments when your emotion intensity is much higher, and you can bring yourself to wise mind!