Published on 17 September 2021

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: What It Is & Purpose?

Psychological Therapy Dialectical-Behavioral-Therapy-(DBT)
Table of Contents

Who doesnt like to talk to someone, and it becomes therapy to get out of a condition? Talking about your feelings and thoughts with a supportive person feels better. Talking about your worries and what's weighing on your mind can be very healing, and it feels so good to be listened to by someone. 

While talking about your problems to close friends and family members can be very beneficial, you might need help that the people around you can not provide. Talking to a therapist or counselor can help when you need extra support. Therapy can be very effective for a person with mental and emotional problems.

Dialectical behavior therapy is a kind of talk therapy for people who sense emotions quickly. At first, DBT was intended to treat borderline personality disorder, but later it has been adapted to treat other mental health conditions. The main objective of DBT is to help people to create a life worth li.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a derivative of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is centered on identifying and changing negative thinking patterns and instead encouraging positive behavioral changes. DBT adapts CBT to assist people who are dealing with stress. 

Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that teaches people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to confront stress, regulate emotions and improve relations with others.  

Dialectical behavior therapy combines individual psychotherapy, group skills, training, a telephonic guide, and a therapist consultation team. The term' Dialectical' is deduced from the idea that bringing together two opposite concepts in therapy, acceptance, and change, brings about more significant results than either alone. (Linehan, M.M., 1987)

With the help of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, you can learn to:

  • Improve your communication skills
  • Manage differences
  • Manage agreement
  • Maintain your integrity

What Can DBT Help With?

This approach to therapy can help people successfully improve their emotional and mental coping skills and develop effective ways to manage and healthily express intense emotions. Originally DBT was used to treat symptoms of borderline personality disorder. 

DBT has been shown effective for treating and managing a wide range of mental health conditions, including:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Anxiety disorders (PTSD, GAD, OCD, Panic attack disorder)
  • ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, compulsive overeating, and binge eating disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Substance use disorder. 
  • Depression. 
  • Self-destructive/harming behaviors or suicidal ideations
  • Substance use disorders
  • Extreme emotional/mood distortion

How Does DBT Work?: Techniques And Modules

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) works by balancing two different thoughts. It helps regulate emotions and encourages people to avoid negative thinking. 

DBT has become an extensively used, evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach to treat several mental health conditions. DBT is often used in various settings, such as:

  • Individual therapy with a trained professional allows a patient's learned behavioral skills during therapy sessions to adapt to their life challenges.
  • Group therapy is where patients are taught behavioral skills in group settings.
  • Phone coaching, wherein patients can call the DBT therapist outside sessions to receive guidance on coping with a distressing situation they might currently be in.

As mentioned above, DBT is based on cognitive behavior therapy, wherein you identify meaningful goals and overcome the obstacles that prevent you from achieving those goals. You learn skills and techniques to change unhelpful thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Frequently asked questions

CBT seeks to give patients the potential to acknowledge when their thought might become troublesome and gives them techniques to deflect those thoughts. DBT helps people to accept themselves, feel safe, and manage their emotions. To help manage potentially destructive harmful behaviors.
With the help of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, borderline personality disorder can be treated with more success rate.
DBT results can often be achieved within four to eight months of comprehensive DBT. It will be dependent on different individuals.

Modules of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

The same applies to DBT, which is a highly structured treatment that teaches critical skills with the help of these four modules:

Core Mindfulness: (DBT)

Core Mindfulness is based on Eastern Zen philosophy and includes Western contemplative practices. This skill is considered the foundation of DBT; patients will not be taught any other skill sets within their sessions until they learn to be mindful.

Mindfulness is awareness of thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and behavioral urges. It helps you focus on the present and live in the moment. It also enables you to pay attention to your bodily reactions (your thoughts, feelings, as well as impulses) while also using your physical senses to tune in to what's happening all around you (what you see, hear, smell, and touch or any other sensations) in a non-judgmental approach.

Individuals will eventually learn to accept all situations, no matter how intense or overwhelming their emotions may become. The strategy can also help you remain calm and avoid impulsive behavior and automatic negative thought patterns.

Distress Tolerance & its history in therapy 

During distress tolerance sessions, an individual will develop the ability to accept and change. A fundamental factor of learning acceptance is first to grasp the concept of radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance will allow you to embrace facing positive and negative life situations. Then you will learn how to view conditions without judgment and accept the outcome, thus preventing self-harming or impulsive behavior.

This skill set heavily incorporates the first skill mentioned, Mindfulness. You will further discover four primary techniques within this class that will help you handle any situation or crisis:

  • Self-soothing
  • Distracting yourself
  • Thinking of the pros and cons of the situation
  • Improving the stressful situation

Research on distress tolerance is still in search. Research shows that it plays an essential role in developing and maintaining several mental health conditions, as well as Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders. For example, one critical theory suggests that the unwillingness to tolerate emotional distress is the key mechanism underlying the development of borderline personality disorder (BPD).

As a result, several different types of therapy have come out that comprise an angle of distress tolerance skills building. 

Interpersonal Effectiveness & Therapy 

The foundation of communicational skills is emotional intelligence or EI. You are specifically aware of your thoughts, actions, and feelings, as well as your impact on others and the potential to sense others' moods and needs. The great news is that this can be added over time. 

Interpersonal effectiveness will encourage you to become more assertive in relationships (for instance, expressing your actual needs and ability to say "no") while maintaining a positive and healthy relationship. You will learn to listen, communicate more efficiently, and deal with challenging people or situations while respecting yourself and others.

Emotional Regulation and Its Importance 

Emotion regulation is control over one's emotional mindset. It may involve behaviors such as reconsidering difficult circumstances to decrease irritation or Anxiety, hiding visible signs of fear or sadness, or focusing on reasons to feel calm and happy. 

Unlike small kids, adults are expected to manage their emotions, especially Anxiety and anger, in a socially acceptable way. When emotional control fails to work, humans often say or do things they regret in time and wish to keep their emotions in check. Uncontrollable emotion is a component of certain forms of mental illnesses.  

Emotion regulation lets you navigate and comprehend powerful feelings efficiently. The skills you learn here will help you identify, name, and alter your emotions. Recognizing and coping with intense negative emotions (anger, frustration, or guilt) reduces emotional vulnerability. It helps you have more positive emotional responses and experiences.

Understand how you're feeling and do the opposite. For example, if you feel depressed, make plans to go out and see your loved ones.

How to Begin Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

The best way to determine if DBT suits you is to speak with a DBT-trained therapist. To assess if DBT is a suitable fit for you, they'll look at your symptoms, treatment history, and therapeutic objectives.

If you or a loved one thinks DBT may help, speak with a healthcare physician or mental health professional trained in the technique. However, finding DBT therapists isn't always easy. 

Qualities of a Dialectical Behavior Therapist

Every therapist has to treat the person going through the situation patiently—effective therapy, including group skills training. According to DBT, therapists must pay as much attention to the behavior and experience of clinicians working with clients as it does to the behavior and knowledge of the clients. As a result, every DBT program should include therapy for the providers, and therapists should practice the skills themselves. Basic behavior therapy approaches and DBT treatment strategies are required. 

Look for a therapist who has had specific training and experience in DBT. A non-profit Organization called the Linehan Board of Certification had set certification requirements for therapists. Furthermore, locating a therapist with whom you feel at ease is critical.

How Long Would You Need DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) typically takes at least six months to a year. However, each person is different, and mental health conditions are complex. You should not expect to be completely free of symptoms or no longer have troublesome behaviors after one year of DBT. 

Many therapists believe that treating borderline personality disorder, in particular, can often take several years. Try not to get discouraged by how long it may take to manage your emotions and have a better quality of life. The important thing is that you're seeking help. Any progress is good progress. 

Is It Possible To Do DBT On Your Own?

DBT is complicated, and it's typically something that people can only do with the counsel of a professional. Although, there are some things you can do on your own to help yourself to develop new coping skills. For example, Mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises are all skills you can utilize to improve your ability to tolerate distress.

It is important to remember that this shouldn't be used in place of professional help. If you're struggling with a mental health state, it's always best to look for the help of a qualified mental health professional. 

Stages And Goals In DBT

DBT therapy is designed to systematically and comprehensively treat issues depending on their severity. Since DBT therapy was initially intended for people with borderline behavioral and emotional problems, treatment progresses in stages. This ensures all concerns are gradually addressed. DBT adheres to the following four steps:

Stage 1: The goal of this stage is stabilization. Individuals in therapy may be dealing with serious issues such as self-harming, trying to kill themselves, using drugs or alcohol, or engaging in other self-injurious behaviors. They often report feeling stuck at an all-time low point in their lives, like they are in "hell." Therapy is generally centered on Safety and crisis intervention aiming to help people achieve control over distressing emotions/behaviors.

Stage 2: Throughout the second stage, patients may be in control of their behavior but suffer in silence. The goal of this stage is for individuals in treatment to fully experience and comprehend their emotions instead of silencing or burying them. Here, behaviors become more stable, but mental health issues may still exist. During this stage, PTSD and past traumas would be treated. 

Stage 3: The third stage is when patients learn to live. This stage focuses on enhancing the quality of life through realistic goal-setting and progress maintenance. This stage aims to promote happiness, contentment, and stability. Also, the patient builds up self-respect, lives an everyday life, and can manage the ups and downs of life. 

Stage 4: The patient achieves deeper meaning through a spiritual existence. People may improve on learned skills or work toward emotion and spiritual fulfillment. This stage aims to help people achieve and maintain an ongoing capacity for happiness and well-being.

Key Points:

  • There is no timeline for moving through these stages. 
  • Targets differ in each stage. 
  • Most patients deal with stage one, which involves behavioral stabilization. 
  • Childhood history and histories of trauma are not addressed until stage 2.

Advantages of DBT

The abilities aren't just for people with mental illnesses

DBT's goal is to improve the symptoms of persons with mental disorders, but it doesn't stop there. The techniques taught by a DBT therapist can be used in various situations.

Mindfulness, for example, has been linked to various elements of health and well-being in studies. Once you've mastered this talent, you can use it in multiple situations, including work, home, and play.

It Makes Your Relationships Better

Having a solid support system is essential when coping with mental health issues. Many forms of treatment ignore this, expecting you to figure it out on your own.
However, DBT emphasizes the importance of our social ties in overcoming obstacles. Healthy relationships, characterized by respected boundaries and trust, can benefit one's health and well-being.

It enhances one's quality of life.

One of the main focuses of DBT is to improve the quality of life. The truth is, we can't always change what happens to us. For some, mental health challenges will be a part of life forever; accepting this fact is critical to moving forward.

DBT aims to improve quality of life by gently helping people make changes to move them in the right direction while letting them know it's okay to find things difficult.

Quality of life can be severely impacted for those experiencing intense and disruptive emotions. Here, the distress tolerance and feeling regulation modules come into their own.

Skills go beyond mental illness. 

Although DBT focuses on improving the symptoms of people with mental illness, the skills instructed by the DBT therapist can also be applied in many other areas of life. Once you learn, these skills can help in many aspects of life - including play, work, and home. 

Gain strategies to maintain positive thoughts.

With the help of DBT, you can enhance your interpersonal effectiveness, communication skills, and ability to handle conflict. 

Disadvantages of DBT

DBT can offer many benefits, but it may not work for everyone. 

Commitment needed: DBT requires an uncompromising level of commitment to therapy. Therapy lasts up to 30 sessions, so a person has to be committed to the entire time frame. Though, the number of sessions can be different.

Demand lifestyle changes: As a part of the commitment to therapy, patients will be expected to implement what they have learned. This could be difficult to do when feeling low and downhearted.

Can recall the past: while some DBT is focused on the present, a Few areas are also involved in looking at past events.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

We know that the first step is always the hardest in anything we do, but we encourage you to contact a specialist if you feel your loved ones are suffering from the conditions. The people find it beneficial to get a DBT. As many people have shown positive effects, it is also necessary for you to follow the therapist's guidelines. 

As every therapy has positive effects, it also might negatively affect you. Just be in touch with the therapist to solve things quickly.

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