Can you please explain the three core senses of self-love, safety and belonging?

DBT-CEnglish / By Francheska Perepletchikova

DBT-C targets 1) our relationship with an environment or factors that elicit and reinforce responses, as well as 2) our relationship with self or vulnerabilities in three core senses: self-love, safety and belonging. Most children (and frequently their parents) receiving DBT-C have a pronounced vulnerability in all of these senses. The sense of self-love is a stable, enduring and unconditional love of self as is, without any requirements of being “good enough” to experience it. Parental love of a child and genuine acceptance of ALL child’s responses form the foundation of developing self-love. The sense of safety refers to an ability to self-control and accumulate resources, knowledge, and connections sufficient to handle challenges, as well as the realistic appraisal of danger. The sense of safety starts to develop when the child is raised in a stable and secure environment and continues to develop when she has achieved control over her own responses and has acquired sufficient life experiences to trust her ability to deal with challenges. The sense of belonging refers to an enduring sense of being welcomed and accepted as a part of a family or a group, as well as connection to ancestry. A relationship where parents are validating and accepting is likely to help the child with developing a sense of belonging, while frequent criticism, pervasive judgments, and reliance on punishment are likely to communicate messages to the child that she is not accepted or even wanted. In DBT-C, the therapist assesses vulnerabilities in these core senses by conducting a Core Problem Analysis with children as well as parents, and directly targets decreasing vulnerabilities in these senses during and between sessions.


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