Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectic Behavioral Therapy came about in the last decade of the 20th century by Dr. Marsha Linehan, renowned as “the mother of DBT.” Interestingly, Dr. Linehan recently disclosed her struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, the primary disorder that DBT treatment aims to treat. The prime objective for applying this psychotherapy is to provide support and skill development assisting people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to regulate their emotions and actions thus enhancing their productivity throughout everyday functioning.

DBT operates under the theory that there exist three methods to deal with our emotions, namely avoiding them (called “dysregulating”), controlling them (called “regulating”), or embracing them as a part of ourselves (termed “integrating”). Should one choose avoidance, thoughts on their feelings are lessened; should they decide on control, however, these sentiments become all-encompassing. In contrast, offering hope is acceptance: by acknowledging such emotions and acquiring effective management mechanisms over time those very sensations lessen in intensity!

It should be brought to attention that DBT transcends beyond the scope of treating BPD patients. BPD has been associated with positive outcomes for a variety of mental health disorders, such as eating disorders, addiction disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more.

What are the advantages of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

  • Reduction in suicidal behavior
  • Improved emotion regulation
  • Improved interpersonal relationships
  • Increased mindfulness
  • Improved quality of life

What are the Different Types of DBT?

  • Standard Dialectical Behavior Therapy: The preponderantly implemented form of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is the standard DBT, which has a primary objective to coach and equip clients with advanced techniques aimed at regulating their emotional responses while modifying behaviours.
  • Dialectical Abstinence: This type of DBT emphasizes abstinence from substances and focuses on helping clients make healthy choices in their lives.
  • Comprehensive Dialectical Behavior Therapy: delves into the intricacies of cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal effectiveness skills training, distress tolerance skills training, and emotion regulation as its foundational modules. It further incorporates an exclusive module known as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), ensuring that individuals receive a holistic approach to mitigating their psychological challenges.
  • Integrative DBT: This approach includes all four modules but also incorporates elements from other therapies such as ACT or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT).
  • Adolescent DBT: A modified version of the standard adult treatment that’s been adapted for adolescents with borderline personality disorder

What are the DBT Core Skills?

  • Mindfulness: Allows one to remain conscious of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in the present instant. One important aspect it provides individuals with includes recognizing when their mind may wander so they can redirect focus back into the here and now. Additionally, this skill cultivates an enhanced level of awareness in various areas leading toward personal growth through deeper self-reflection.
  • Distress Tolerance: Aids individuals in enduring hardship without resorting to acting on urges or engaging in harmful habits such as excessive eating and alcoholism. This skillset involves various techniques, including taking deep breaths calmly during uneasy situations, redirecting your focus away from painful emotions by indulging yourself in a different activity altogether; seeking support from those around you when facing hardships; incorporating relaxation methods like practicing meditation or yoga exercises into your daily routine for stress relief purposes only rather than using it excessively; distinguishing between obligations that others can fulfil themselves versus ones where they need assistance while setting boundaries accordingly- so both parties are satisfied with the outcome of whatever task needs completion; acknowledging aspects which cannot be altered at present times (e.g., “this may make me feel low today but tomorrow will bring brighter days”) thereby accepting them wholeheartedly rather than fighting against what’s inevitable.”
  • Emotion Regulation: Helps people identify their emotions accurately and then choose healthy ways of responding rather than reacting automatically with negative feelings like anger, sadness, or anxiety which usually lead them down a path toward more pain rather than relief.”
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Helps people build and maintain positive relationships with others through assertiveness, validation, boundary setting, and active listening. This involves learning how to express your needs and wants clearly and assertively, while also being open to hearing and respecting the needs and wants of others.

By Diana Sultanova, Mental Health Intern