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We asked Dr. Kobernick to come back (her first episode is here: because I have been getting tons of questions about Radical Acceptance, which is a building block of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). I’ve also noticed that our most popular episodes have been those about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) and DBT so, I knew we needed an expert to come in and talk about it some more.

Radical acceptance is the most difficult skill to master in DBT. Normally, the best way to go about it is to start with small, immediate problems like burnt food or missing the bus. Once you are able to accept inconveniences like those, you can start working on accepting the more difficult parts of life like trauma or illness.

‘Dialectical’ means that there are two things in opposition to each other that simultaneously exist. The major dialectic in DBT is acceptance and change. We can both fully accept the way things are right now and work toward changing ourselves and our situation for a better future, but the acceptance part is not done in order to bring about change. It is done for the parts of life that we cannot necessarily change the outcome ourselves, at least not in this very moment, and we need to accept this moment.

Everyone experiences pain. It is inevitable. Suffering, however, is not. When we choose to accept our pain, we can experience freedom instead of suffering. Fighting against what’s happening and focusing on how unfair and unjust it is only leads to misery. We can be sad about our current situation and grieve loss and still accept that it is reality. You’ll know you have accepted a situation when you stop fighting for reality to be different or hiding from what’s happening. Radical acceptance is almost never a one-time decision. After you have chosen to accept something in your reality, you will be reminded of the difficulty of it again and again, and you must choose to accept it every time. It should gradually get easier for each problem.

To experience less distress, we need to realize that all emotions are welcome and needed in life. They serve different purposes. Happiness or bliss should not be one’s goal. A happier life includes every emotion at its proper time. The goal of DBT is to build a life worth living, not to feel only happiness.

Dr. Kobernick works with teens who have multiple problems and need the support of full DBT treatment. Teen treatment always includes family members because it is almost impossible for a kid to implement the changes needed in their life without the whole family system cooperating or at least one advocate being in the home with them. She works with the kid alone, the kid with their family, and the family alone in order to provide the best support possible.

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Connect with Dr. Kobernick:




“A lot of us spend a lot of time not accepting the past.” @DrKobernick @MatanaJacobs #HopetoRecharge
“Suffering is optional. We do have to experience pain, but we don’t have to suffer.” @DrKobernick  @MatanaJacobs #HopetoRecharge
“Radical acceptance is about grieving a loss.” @DrKobernick @MatanaJacobs #HopetoRecharge
“Most of life is not as painful as we believe it is.” @DrKobernick @MatanaJacobs #HopetoRecharge
“Can’t is a tough word because that takes away our choice.” @DrKobernick @MatanaJacobs #HopetoRecharge

Topics Discussed:

  • DBT
  • Radical Acceptance
  • Grief vs. Depression
  • Suffering
  • Emotions
  • Teen DBT treatment


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