DBT Concept: The Well Within

DBT Well Within

The Well Within is a metaphor designed by Marsha Linehan, the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). In my practice, I find this metaphor helps some clients understand why they have a hard time accessing their wise mind.

Image that you are standing on the edge of a well, and peering down into the water. The water represents your wisdom. Overtime, you begin to associate water with your wisdom. Some people look into the well, and see nothing by dry earth. This often occurs when there are trap doors that block our access to our wisdom. Trap doors may include: traumatic experiences, substance use or judgments that you have about yourself or the world. One of the purposes of DBT therapy is to help us identify trap doors in our lives and figure out how to remove them so we can access our wisdom.

Now, sometimes what happens is we experience intense emotions. These serve as clouds, that rain down. Water may collect on your trap doors. So you look into your well, you see water and you conclude, “Ah Ha! This is wisdom! I’m totally justified in acting this way!” This is not the case. We call this “water on the trap door thinking” and it occurs when extreme emotions mascaraed as our wisdom. Be vigilant to this type of thinking!

Jenell Effinger