Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT)

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy prepares patients with new skills to handle their emotions (emotional regulation) and decrease the number of disagreements that can occur in relationships. The main focus of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is to provide therapeutic skills in the following key areas; mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. With mindfulness, there is a focus on refining an individual’s ability to welcome and be aware of what’s occurring in the present moment. Distress Tolerance is aimed at expanding a person’s tolerance of negative emotion so they can confront it rather than run from it. With emotion management, a plan of action is used to manage and change strong emotions that could cause problems in living. Lastly, personal effectiveness consists of techniques that give a person the ability to talk with others constructively while maintaining self-respect and a healthy relationship.

When Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Be Applied?

When Dialectical Behavior Therapy evolved it was to treat borderline personality disorders. In time, research began to show that Dialectical Behavior Therapy was also helpful in treating people who suffered from depression, bulimia, binge-eating, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse. The skills that come from Dialectical Behavior Therapy have the potential to balance emotions, manage stress, be mindful of the present and communicate with and understand others.

What Can You Expect from Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can involve one-on-one therapy sessions or Dialectical Behavior Therapy skill groups. The individual therapy sessions will include a one-on-one session with an educated therapist so that all key points are presented and discussed. One-on-one therapy is important in ensuring the patient stays inspired and can apply things learned in session to their daily lives. In a Dialectical Behavior Therapy that involves a group setting, the patient will be able to learn and apply things taught to them to also help other patients. It’s always a good idea for group members to listen and share life experiences with other members so that everyone feels a sense of moral support from other peers. In a group setting, patients get to work with other patients with one lead therapist who will teach needed skills and implement exercises. Group therapy might not be needed for everyone but it is an option that you and your therapist can discuss together during sessions.

How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral treatment that was developed in the 1980s to assist people struggling with a borderline personality disorder. Patients who have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder can encounter severe negative feelings that can be difficult to manage at times. Strong negative emotions can occur when a patient is dealing with people they are in a close relationship with or a close loved family or friend. Those with borderline personality disorder tend to go through hardships and conflicts when dealing with relationships. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, the therapist will work with the patient to explore ways of finding how opposing views( a dialectic) can help the patient learn to balance their way of thinking, thus developing a healthier approach in thinking, feeling and behaving.