Self-Exploration Using a DBT House

I recently purchased a new book for counseling, (thanks to a referral from one of my LinkedIn contacts!) titled Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills, 101 Mindfulness 


Exercises and Other Fun Activities for Children and Adolescents
. Such a long name for a book, but I have found great activities inside.

One of the activities I absolutely love so far is creating what they name a “DBT House.”

Creating Your House Template:

Draw an outline of the house. Be sure to include a floor, roof, door, chimney, 4 levels, and a billboard above the house. The house will be used to represent the participant’s life.

If you buy the book, you can use their outline for a house if desired. I prefer to draw my own house, or have the client draw their house.

Picture of the house illustration in book

Parts of the House:

Foundation– On the floor of the house, write the values that govern your life.

Walls– Along the walls, write anything or anyone who supports you.

Roof– On the roof, name the things or people that protect you.

Door– Write the things that you keep hidden from others

Chimney– Coming out of the chimney, write down ways in which you blow off steam.

Billboard– On the billboard, write the things that you are proud of and want others to see.

Levels of the House:

Level 1: list behaviors that you are trying to gain control of or areas of your life you want to change.

Level 2: list or draw emotions you want to experience more often, more fully, or in a more healthy way.

Level 3: list all the things you are happy about or want to feel happy about.

Level 4: list or draw what a “Life Worth Living” would look like for you.

Have you used this activity, or a similar activity? What kinds of questions would you ask after completing this activity?

Published by

Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

12 thoughts on “Self-Exploration Using a DBT House

  1. Loved doing this. The door part really struck a chord emotionally-I immediately knew what I needed to put, but it was still a tiny bit scary and uncomfortable.

  2. I am about to use this activity today for a session with an adult with traumatic brain injury. Just curious about what kinds of results others have experienced. How have they processed the results and what questions have arised from completing the activity. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Kellee! This is a great question. I’m embarrassed for being so far behind but glad to finally catch up and answer these wonderful questions and comments! The book actually had another level of this activity that went into more depth, and which may be appropriate for the adolescent boys. I also find that boys tend to take the role of protector in their family if a father figure is absent. I think it would be interesting to find out if the boy finds himself in any of those roles in his family, such as the “support” or “foundation” of the house. These questions can really be used with girls too though!

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