Dialectical behavior therapy refers to a type of talking therapy built on cognitive behavioral therapy. DBT aims to help individuals with intense emotions alter negative thinking models and adapt to positive behavioral changes. The primary objective of this therapy is to help individuals develop healthy coping mechanisms with stress, regulate emotions, and boost their relationships with others.
Initially, DBT was used to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD) before it was adopted to treat other various mental health conditions. Individuals with BPD have difficulties regulating their emotions, and they experience instability in self-image, moods, behavior, thinking, and relationships. DBT can aid individuals who find it challenging to control their emotions. In addition, the therapy helps treat suicidal and other self-harming tendencies, including substance abuse disorders and eating disorders. Sometimes, DBT is adapted in curing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The term “Dialectical” was coined to refer to the idea that acceptance and change can lead to better results by bringing two opposites together. The exceptional trait of DBT is that it aims to convince the patients to accept their experiences. Then, with the therapist’s assurance, they balance the work needed to change the negative behaviors.
Settings of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT has established an evidence-based psychoanalysis approach to treat various conditions. Settings of DBT comprise individual therapy, phone coaching, group skills training, and consultations groups for health care providers.
Individual therapy – this therapy is carried out by a trained professional where patients learn behavioral skills adapted to their life challenges.
Phone coaching – is the part where a patient can contact the therapist between sessions to receive assistance on how to deal with a challenging situation at that particular moment.
Group therapy – individuals learn behavioral skills on a group basis from a therapist.
Consultation groups are meant for health care workers to stay motivated and discuss patient care.
Patients agree to do homework to practice the new skills as per their therapist’s instructions. The homework may entail filling out a diary to keep track of their emotions, behavior, urges, and skills such as self-injury, self-respect, and lying.
Strategies and Techniques Used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Interpersonal effectiveness helps individuals become more assertive in relationships while keeping them positive and healthy. You learn to communicate and listen more effectively when dealing with challenging situations.
Emotional regulation – it lets you effectively navigate powerful feelings. When you recognize and learn to cope with extreme negative emotions, it minimizes your emotional susceptibility and aids in having more positive emotional experiences.
Distress tolerance – this skill enables you to feel intense emotions like anger without reacting impulsively or using self-harm or substance abuse to numb distress.
Distress tolerance techniques enable you to prepare for extreme emotions and manage them with a more positive lasting viewpoint.
Mindfulness is generally being aware of the self and others and attentive to the present moment. Mindful skills enable you to use healthy coping skills during emotional pain.
Conditions Treated by DBT
Primarily, DBT is used to treat multiple diagnoses and focuses on high-risk and hard-to-treat individuals. Initially, DBT was used to treat suicidal behavior and borderline personality disorder. BPD leads to acute emotional distress that can comprise intense outbursts of anger and aggression, the extreme sensitivity of rejection, and rapidly shifting moods. However, DBT has been adopted to treat various mental problems that threaten an individual’s safety, work, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.
Patients who undergo DBT have seen improvements such as less frequent and less severe suicidal behavior, improved social functioning, less anger, as well as being less likely to drop out of treatment. In addition, DBT helps substance abusers with BPD.
According to some studies, DBT also helps treat depression, PTSD, and anxiety. In addition, scientists imply that DBT is also helpful in treating disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in children.
In conclusion, DBT requires a lot of time and commitment. In addition to the therapy sessions, individuals must do homework to work on skills outside group, individual, and phone counseling sessions. But with the appropriate amount of effort, patients can effect real positive change in their lives.