Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), which was developed in the 1980s by psychologist Marsha Linehan, is utilized in both individual and group therapy. This empirically validated form of treatment is completely skills based and is useful for people who experience difficulty with intense emotions, self-destructive or maladaptive behaviors, and issues related to safety. In particular, DBT has been proven to be effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder, eating disorders, suicidal and self-harming behaviors, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, difficulties with impulse control, and emotional and behavioral dysregulation, among other mental health conditions. Overtime, it has been found that those who learn and implement DBT skills are better able to effectively manage their emotions, improve relationships, reduce impulsively, and maintain safety.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy includes four different modules, including:

  1. Mindfulness: Mindfulness skills are central in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, as they aim to improve awareness of oneself and the world. In gaining awareness, people are able to make better decisions, focus on one thing at a time, avoid judgments, and act according to what is effective and productive.
  2. Distress Tolerance: Distress Tolerance skills help people learn how to tolerate and survive crisis situations without making them worse. This module includes two subsets of skills, Crisis Survival and Accepting Reality skills. Crisis Survival skills are designed to help people cope effectively with difficult situations and emotions in the moment without turning to harmful coping mechanisms, and Accepting Reality skills allow people to accept what can not be changed in order to reduce long-term suffering.
  3. Emotion Regulation: Emotion Regulation skills teach people how to become more aware of their emotions, behave in ways that reduce emotional suffering, and create emotional balance. These skills allow people to have more control over their emotions as opposed to their emotions having control over them.
  4. Interpersonal Effectiveness: Interpersonal Effectiveness skills teach people how to manage interpersonal conflicts effectively, as well as how to maintain and improve relationships. This includes learning how to assert ones needs in healthy, productive ways and set personal boundaries, both of which allow for more self-respect in relationships.

The overall goal of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is help people build a life that they experience as worth living. This includes exploring one’s priorities, goals, and values, as well as what needs to be improved upon or changed, in order to achieve personal fulfillment and a satisfying life.