Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a variation of cognitive-behavioral therapy developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s. Initially, psychologists used DBT therapy to alleviate extreme emotional distress in individuals with borderline personality disorder who didn’t respond to conventional treatments. Although this remains the primary indication of DBT, people with several other psychiatric conditions can also benefit from this treatment.
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What Does DBT Mean?
As a CBT variant, dialectical behavior therapy is a medical, psychological treatment program for helping individuals leading emotionally disruptive lives to cope and develop better emotions. The approach focuses on reconciling opposing forces to promote acceptance while encouraging behavior change.
Typically, therapy involves 12 sessions aimed at helping you develop the ability to identify and appreciate different viewpoints, challenge your assumptions and create new perspectives. You’ll learn to balance between accepting situations as they are and changing your outlook, which is necessary for a happier and more satisfying life.
Instead of seeing things as black and white, DBT therapy helps you develop new perspectives and averts intense emotional reactions that often precipitate crisis after crisis, including depression, in subjects with borderline personality disorder.
How Does DBT Work? DBT Therapy Techniques
The DBT course entails four aspects, often referred to as skills or modules, that focus on promoting acceptance and behavior change.
- Core mindfulness
Mindfulness involves observing your emotions, thoughts, and actions without passing judgment on any of them. DBT helps you to understand your thoughts and feelings while encouraging you to practice mindfulness, which is the first step to acceptance.
- Interpersonal effectiveness
DBT seeks to improve interpersonal relationships, especially when a person feels uncomfortable or vulnerable to intense emotions. Through interpersonal effectiveness, you learn to communicate your needs clearly and be assertive without causing a crisis.
- Distress tolerance
Behavior change is gradual. That’s why DBT teaches distress tolerance as an acceptance skill for coping with the crisis, even as you work to develop new perspectives. It teaches you to deal with challenging situations and endure emotional pain, making it easy to accept things as they are instead of focusing on how they should be.
- Emotional regulation
Coping with extreme emotions begins with learning to identify feelings such as sadness, anxiety, and anger and their triggers. The therapist then helps you learn techniques for regulating these intense emotional reactions whenever they arise. Emotional regulation enhances your ability to experience more positive emotions while lowering your susceptibility to extremes.
Formats of DBT Therapy
The program will help you learn emotional regulation, acceptance, distress tolerance, and interpersonal communication through different sessions, including:
- Individual therapy sessions. These focus on building a good self-image and exploring the person’s problem-solving abilities. The therapist engages you in a discussion of experiences or reactions during the previous crises and provides alternative approaches to dealing with the circumstances.
- Group therapy sessions. Happening weekly, these sessions are crucial in developing interpersonal skills as you interact with individuals with diverse emotional issues.
- Online DBT therapy. Sometimes people with mental health problems get into crises of emotional outbursts and other harmful behaviors. Online DBT therapy allows you to receive immediate support and manage the situation better, as you can contact the doctor at any time.
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Who Can Benefit from the DBT program?
DBT is an effective coping strategy for people with several psychological problems, including:
- Borderline personality disorder
BPD affects how people feel about themselves as they often experience extreme emotions and struggle to stay in stable relationships. Developed for treating BPD symptoms in individuals who do not improve with conventional therapy, DBT remains a popular therapy for bipolar personality disorder, especially in subjects struggling with suicidal tendencies.
- Eating disorders
DBT is an effective alternative treatment for some eating disorders, such as binge eating and bulimia nervosa. Notably, it does not work for everyone, and only those who use eating disorders to escape extreme emotions often benefit from DBT.
- Suicidal tendencies or self-harm
Mostly, people attempt suicide or other harmful tendencies to escape difficult situations or emotions. DBT provides alternative mechanisms for dealing with such negative emotions and urges by letting you appreciate the validity of your feelings and building tolerance and emotional regulation.
Dialectical behavior therapy can also help in other situations, such as:
- Impulsive behavior
- Substance use
Benefits of DBT Therapy
Extreme emotions can hamper your relationships leading to a vicious cycle of mental health turmoil. With DBT, a person learns to build healthy relationships with trust and respectful boundaries by regulating behavior and developing good interpersonal skills.
Improved Quality of Life
While everyone encounters difficult situations, people with disruptive emotions often get overwhelmed by their experiences. DBT lets you understand that you can’t control everything happening to you. Instead, it helps you develop distress tolerance and emotional regulation to help you lead a more fulfilled and happier life.
Dialectical behavior therapy is a CBT variant for helping individuals experiencing intense emotional reactions cope and lead more satisfying lives. Therapy involves multiple sessions conducted in about 24 weeks. Benefits of DBT include improved relationships and better quality of life. If you think you may need psychotherapy to deal with daily issues and disturbing symptoms, contact EZCare doctors today.