DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY
Information taken directly from Psychology Today.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas. First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual's ability to accept and be present in the current moment. Second, distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it. Third, emotion regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life. Fourth, interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships.
When It's Used
DBT was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder. However, research shows that DBT has also been used successfully to treat people experiencing depression, bulimia, binge-eating, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic-stress disorder, and substance abuse. DBT skills are thought to have the capability of helping those who wish to improve their ability to regulate emotions, tolerate distress and negative emotion, be mindful and present in the given moment, and communicate and interact effectively with others.
What to Expect
DBT treatment typically consists of individual therapy sessions and DBT skills groups. Individual therapy sessions consist of one-on-one contact with a trained therapist, ensuring that all therapeutic needs are being addressed. The individual therapist will help the patient stay motivated, apply the DBT skills within daily life, and address obstacles that might arise over the course of treatment.
DBT skills group participants learn and practice skills alongside others. Members of the group are encouraged to share their experiences and provide mutual support. Groups are led by one trained therapist teaching skills and leading exercises. The group members are then assigned homework, such as practicing mindfulness exercises. Each group session lasts approximately two hours, and groups typically meet weekly for six months. Groups can be shorter or longer, depending on the needs of the group members. DBT can be delivered by therapists in many ways. For instance, some people complete the one-on-one therapy sessions without attending the weekly skills group. Others might choose the group without regular one-on-one sessions.