Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive and evidence-based therapeutic approach to treatment.
Initially designed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT has since been adapted for various mental health issues characterized by emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships.
DBT combines cognitive-behavioural techniques with concepts of mindfulness with practical skills to improve well-being.
DBT is often delivered in two main modes:
1. Individual Therapy: In individual therapy sessions, the therapist and the individual work on specific issues and behaviors. The therapist helps the individual apply DBT skills to their unique challenges.
2. Skills Training Group: Skills training groups are typically conducted in a structured format, where individuals learn and practice DBT skills. These groups cover mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.
What it DBT
Dialectics is a philosophical concept that emphasizes the integration of opposites. In DBT, dialectics recognize the tension between acceptance and change, acknowledging that individuals can work toward acceptance of themselves and their circumstances while also striving for positive change.
Key components of Dialectical Behavior Therapy include:
- Mindfulness is a central component of DBT. It involves cultivating non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness skills help individuals observe and describe their experiences without getting overwhelmed by emotions, leading to greater emotional regulation.
2. Emotion Regulation:
- DBT teaches emotion regulation skills to help individuals identify, understand, and manage intense emotions. This includes recognizing and labelling emotions, reducing emotional vulnerability, and developing healthier responses to emotional triggers.
3. Interpersonal Effectiveness:
- Interpersonal effectiveness skills in DBT focus on improving communication and relationships. Individuals learn assertiveness, setting boundaries, and negotiating effectively while maintaining self-respect and promoting positive interactions.
4. Distress Tolerance:
- Distress tolerance skills aim to help individuals cope with and tolerate distressing situations without resorting to impulsive or harmful behaviours. Techniques include distraction, self-soothing activities, and crisis survival strategies.
Balancing Acceptance and Change
Embrace the dialectical nature of DBT by finding a balance between acceptance and change. Learn to acknowledge and accept yourself and your current situation while working towards positive change.
Identify and label your emotions, and use techniques such as opposite action, PLEASE skills (treat PhysicaL illness, balance Eating, avoid mood-Altering substances, balance Sleep, and get Exercise), and self-soothing activities to manage emotional intensity.
Engage in activities that contribute to a sense of mastery and accomplishment. Identify and pursue activities that align with your skills and interests, helping you build confidence and a positive sense of self.
Common misconceptions about DBT
1. DBT is only for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Reality: While DBT was initially developed for individuals with BPD, it has been adapted for various mental health conditions. DBT is effective for individuals struggling with emotion dysregulation, self-harm behaviours, suicidal thoughts, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships.
2. DBT is a rigid and manualized therapy with no room for individualization
Reality: While DBT has a structured format, it allows for flexibility and individualization. Therapists tailor the treatment to meet each individual's specific needs and goals. The principles of DBT can be applied in various ways to address a wide range of issues.
3. DBT is only about changing behaviours, not emotions
Reality: While DBT includes behavioural strategies, it also addresses the underlying emotional experiences. DBT helps individuals understand and regulate emotions more effectively, leading to lasting behavioural change.
How DBT Can Help
Acceptance of Reality
Radical acceptance involves acknowledging and accepting the current reality, including both external circumstances and internal experiences such as thoughts and emotions. It is a recognition that fighting against or denying reality can lead to increased emotional distress.
Letting Go of Resistance
This concept emphasises releasing resistance to pain. Instead of investing energy in trying to change the unchangeable, during DBT, you will learn skills to accept the present moment's reality.
Learn to develop a non-judgmental stance toward oneself, others, and the situation at hand. let go of evaluations such as "good" or "bad" and adopting an attitude of impartial observation.
Letting Go of Control
Attempting to control the uncontrollable can lead to frustration and suffering, which can increase emotional pain. Learning to let go can help ease the weight of your emotions.
Practicing radical acceptance can be particularly beneficial in situations where individuals are facing circumstances they cannot control or when they are dealing with painful emotions. It is a skill that is often incorporated into the distress tolerance module of DBT, helping individuals navigate crises with a greater sense of calm and resilience.
Learn More About Therapy
We vary in our needs, personalities, and the issues we face.
Different therapies address this diversity and provide practical approaches for each individual's unique situation.
Depending on your conditions and concerns, some therapies may be more suitable for you than others.