Apparently irrelevant behaviors DBT

This blogpost will be based on the question  “ What are Apparently irrelevant behaviors DBT?”.  Apparently irrelevant behaviors DBT will be discussed in detail in the current blogspot. We will also learn the various aspects related to apparently irrelevant behaviors in DBT.

What are Apparently irrelevant behaviors DBT?

In DBT , Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the apparently irrelevant behaviors are defined as behaviors that at first glance do not appear to be related to  the maladaptive behavior. The concept of apparently irrelevant behaviors is majorly related to the maladaptive eating patterns based on binge eating and purging. However, in reality the relevance of these seemingly irrelevant behaviors to eating disorders is of significance and they play a vital role in the behavior chain leading to the maladaptive behaviors.

Behind the apparently irrelevant behaviors in dialectical behavior therapy is a staunch belief of the individual that the behavior  has no value, doesn’t really matter or has no impact upon the binge eating and the final goal of ceasing the binge eating behavior. However, upon close analysis, the behavior that is apparently irrelevant has an importance in the sequence of events that lead to maladaptive patterns of behaviors.

How can we understand the role of  apparently irrelevant behaviors in problem behaviors?

The behavior chain that is formed during dialectical behavior therapy for understanding the problematic behavior is as follows :

Binge Eating and/or Purging caused by Mindless Eating as a result of Food cravings, urges, preoccupations due to Capitulating results from Apparently Irrelevant Behaviors.

Inorder to monitor or analyze the problem behaviors related to binge eating or purging, there is a need to understand the apparently irrelevant behaviors that lie at the base of the chain that results in eating disorder. 

To bring about a change in the problematic behavior, we first need to understand the triggers that prompt the behavior, the features that make the individual vulnerable for a particular behavior and the subliminal gains that the individual benefits from due to the apparently irrelevant behaviors as a part of DBT. The ultimate gain of the behavior that apparently seems irrelevant is the final consequence of the behavior chain that starts with apparently irrelevant behaviors and ends on binge eating or purging.

A case example of the apparently irrelevant behavior DBT is of a person who binged on a triple melt beef burger for dinner after eating a 3 course meal at lunch. The individual felt tired and stressed and since he had returned from office he ate to please himself and get rid of his frustration. 

When the above example is sorted out in the form of problem behavior, prompting event and the triggers we can sort the above example by the following :

Problem Behavior : Binge eating a triple melt beef burger for dinner after eating a 3 course meal at lunch

Prompting Event : In a weekly meeting coworker got assigned a duty that was previously assigned to the individual previously

Triggers: Feeling of stress and frustration

The above case example that is being initiated with apparently irrelevant behavior will be sorted out  using the following steps through dialectical behavior therapy:

  • Treatment goal will be to cease or decrease the problematic eating behavior
  • The treatment targets will be based on the following :
  • Stop any behavior that interferes in achieving the goal
  • Stop any behavior that intervenes with the quality of life
  • Try to distract yourself from binge eating or purging
  • Eliminate mindless eating
  • Decrease preoccupation with food
  • Close your availability and options for binge eating
  • Decrease apparently irrelevant behaviors to discontinue the cycle leading to problematic behaviors
  • Increase emotional regulation

The ultimate goal in dialectical behavior therapy is to take yourself from mindless eating to mindful eating. Mindful eating can be achieved through dialectical behavior therapy by :

  • Paying attention to whatever you eat throughout the day
  • Have a strong sense of control over your binge episodes 
  • For example instead of sitting in front of the television and eating a pack full of your favourite snacks be mindful of every snack you take and try to strict to low calorie snacks
  • Do not feel being out of control when it comes to food, be at maximum power while doing the grocery so you don’t fall a prey to impulsive buying
  • Have an understanding that absorbing and focusing all your attention on food is the worst that you can do to yourself
  • Inorder to distract yourself from distressing emotions you can go for a walk or an exercise instead of sitting back idle and eating more
  • Diffuse your cognitive distortions and unpleasant feelings

The key is to eliminate or cease any behaviors that interfere with the functionality of the individual or that declines the adaptive functioning of the individual through dialectical behavior therapy. The main targets are :

  • Reduce binge eating
  • Decrease mindless eating
  • Decrease cravings
  • Be incharge of the food you intake
  • Decrease capitulating
  • Decrease apparently irrelevant behaviors

What are the examples of Apparently Irrelevant Behaviors DBT?

The examples of apparently irrelevant behaviors in Dialectical Behavior Therapy are as follows :

  • Buying food from the bake sale with a belief that it is a charity thing
  • Buying eating stuff from a food stall of underprivileged students at a funfair for funding purposes
  • Buying extra snacks with a belief “just in case i need it “
  • Buying snacks for the office 
  • Saving leftovers for munching on during the meals 
  • Eating extra during the meals to avoid building up on hunger
  • Eating more on dine outs and buffets to balance the money paid.
  • Believing it’s ok to eat more on weekends while watching your favourite show.
  • Eating meat and barbecue more often just to justify that protein helps with weight loss.
  • Wearing ill fitting clothes to satisfy yourself and be at ease in front of others.
  • Eating only twice a day and eating more than required as you only eat twice a day and need to fulfil the energy requirement for the day in those two slots only


The current blogspot focused on the apparently irrelevant behaviors DBT. We learned the various apparently irrelevant behaviors in DBT. We also discussed how decreasing the apparently irrelevant behaviors of DBT can help us overcome our maladaptive behaviors.

Frequently asked questions : Apparently irrelevant behaviors DBT

What are target behaviors in DBT?

The target behaviors in DBT are as follows :

  • life-threatening behavior
  • therapy-interfering behavior
  • quality-of-life-interfering behavior

What are the six main points of dialectical behavior therapy?

The six main points of dialectical behavior therapy are :

  • DBT is still an evolving medical treatment based on mindfulness
  • Acceptance of situations.
  • Change oriented strategies.
  • Emotions regulation.
  • Distress tolerance.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness

What are the 3 components of DBT?

The three components of DBT are :

  • skills training group
  • individual treatment
  • consultation team

What are the 4 DBT skills?

The following are the 4 DBT skills :

  • mindfulness.
  • distress tolerance.
  • interpersonal effectiveness.
  • emotional regulation


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