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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

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Have you ever felt like you can’t handle your intense emotions? Maybe you’re prone to extreme mood swings, emotional outbursts, or even hysterics. If so, you might benefit from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.

Created in the 1980s, DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy used to help people regulate their volatile emotions. In contrast to some free-flowing talk therapies, DBT is a highly structured approach to treatment. Using a combination of cognitive-behavioral techniques, psycho-educational modules, and eastern mindfulness practices, DBT fosters the learning of new emotional coping skills. It also gradually challenges people’s negative thoughts or beliefs that are often the source of emotional turmoil.

DBT emphasizes taking responsibility for one’s problems and examining how one habitually deals with conflict and negative feelings. Goals of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy include identifying maladaptive coping patterns and teaching adaptive coping strategies to promote healthier lifestyles and psychological well-being. People undergoing DBT treatment will be asked to complete homework assignments and practice skills, such as calming yourself when you’re upset.

3 Important Facts

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is the most effective therapy for those with borderline personality disorder. It is also highly effective for others with severe emotional disturbances caused by depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and more.
  • DBT is based on principles of collaboration and support between therapist and client.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy sessions focus on interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance skills. Sessions are done individually and in group settings.

Signs to Look For

Signs that you or your child may need DBT include:

  • Self-harm and cutting
  • Hysterics
  • Black-and-white thinking
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Emotionally intense outbursts
  • Impulsivity
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Lack of awareness around how actions affect others

What Are My Next Steps?

If you think you’d benefit from a course of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, make an appointment with a therapist trained in the DBT approach. Those trained by Behavioral Tech usually have the most in-depth, thorough training. Talking with a trained DBT therapist can give you a good idea of what treatment will include and what will be expected of you throughout the therapy.

Common Questions and Answers About Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

What can I expect DBT to accomplish?

The use of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help people decrease self-destructive behaviors, learn new coping skills to tolerate tough emotions, challenge negative and false thoughts and beliefs, and increase their motivation to make positive changes.

How effective is DBT?

Research suggests that DBT has reduced rates of suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, and treatment drop-outs compared to traditional treatments.

Who benefits from DBT?

DBT can benefit those suffering from borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts and intentions, severe depression, self harming, difficulty managing intense emotions, and dramatic mood swings or hysterics.

How is DBT different from regular cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a modification of CBT and incorporates some of the same techniques, such as using homework assignment, challenging negative thought patterns and building coping skills. However, it also incorporates acceptance and mindfulness strategies. This means that DBT helps people accept the limitations of reality while working toward positive changes.