What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) combines cognitive and behavioral therapies to transform negative thinking patterns and destructive behaviors into positive outcomes. While DBT started as a method to treat borderline personality disorders, it has since shown to be an effective treatment for eating disorders, suicidal ideation, stress management, and more. Along with CBT, DBT is a widely used method of talk therapy among Edgewood therapists.

What are the components of DBT?

DBT teaches you that your experiences are real and how to accept who you are, regardless of challenges or difficult experiences. Relationships are also important in DBT, including the relationship between you and your therapist. Key components include:

Support Oriented

DBT helps you identity and build on your strengths to help you feel better about life and yourself

Cognitive Based

DBT helps you identity the thoughts, beliefs and assumptions that make your life more difficult. Ideas such as, “I have to be perfect at everything” and “If I get angry, I’m a terrible person” can be reframed to thoughts such as “I don’t need to be perfect for people to care about me” and “Everyone gets angry, it’s a normal emotion.”

Collaborative

DBT requires ongoing interaction with your therapist. Along with talk therapy, you may be asked to complete homework assignments, role-play news ways of interacting with others, and practice skills such as how to calm yourself when upset. Your therapist will help you learn, apply, and master your new DBT skills.

What does DBT teach?

Through DBT, you will learn:

Mindfulness

At its core, DBT skills are centered on mindfulness. Mindfulness is fully attending to what’s happening, what you’re doing, and to the space you’re moving through. So often, our minds veer from the matter at hand. Once our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re engrossed in obsessive thoughts about something that just happened or fretting about the future. And that makes us anxious. DBT helps you accept and tolerate emotions when confronting upsetting or uncomfortable situations.

Interpersonal Effectiveness 

This relates to your relationship with others. Specifically, you are taught how to ask for what you need, how to say “no,” and how to deal with interpersonal conflict.

Distress Tolerance

This component involves tolerating, accepting, and finding meaning in the distress that occurs in your life. You are taught to accept a distressing event without imposing judgment on the situation. The object of distress tolerance is to develop the capability to recognize a negative event and its impact without becoming overwhelmed by it.

Emotion Regulation

This DBT aspect teaches you how to identify, regulate, and feel emotion without it overwhelming you to the point of impulsive behavior.  

Can DBT help me?

DBT favors a frequent and close connection with your therapist. You may have ongoing appointments and check-ins to talk about any successes or problems. While it takes time and effort to learn and enjoy the benefits of DBT skills, most people find the strategies eventually become second nature and last a lifetime.

For more information about DBT, or if you think this method of therapy can help you overcome challenges, reach out to Edgewood today.