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  • Writer's pictureLex Ellis (he/she/they)

Diary Cards: An Introduction

Diary cards are a straightforward and helpful tool in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that help you track harmful thoughts, urges, and skill use. This is very important in the effort to document and change ineffective behavior patterns. To change, we must first acknowledge our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It seems simple enough when you see it written out like this, but it's not always easy to name your feelings. Diary cards are here to help with that. You can also see your growth over time.

To help you with your tracking, there are a few methods to choose from depending on your needs and what works the best for you.


If your biggest concern is convenience, DBT diary card apps may be the best way to go for you. Free to download and free to use apps like DBT Coach and DBT Pal are available and have all you need immediately without extra work.

Online Printables

Maybe you prefer to make your diary cards unique and customizable for you. You can find free printable diary cards online. You can print off as many as you'd like and organize it however works best for you in a binder or folder.

Diary Card Journals

If you're like me, I prefer to have it already laid out for me, but I also want to write my diary cards physically as opposed to on the apps. I process things better in my mind if I write them out, but I don't always have the mental energy to organize my journal. In this case, there are DBT diary card journals available on websites like Etsy and Amazon.

No matter what avenue you choose to take, they will all help you track your emotions and thoughts and continue working on establishing healthy reactions and coping skills!

Note: Online DBT Skills live group members get free diary cards & templates as part of the program. There's even a "beginners" diary card that includes DBT skills you might already be using.


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