What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment which combines cognitive-behavioral theory and methods with eastern meditative principles and practices. Dialectical Behavior therapy was developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan.

Who Benefits from DBT Skills Training?

DBT can be useful for Borderline Personality Disorder, Substance Abuse, self-injury, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and depression.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training

Usually, DBT includes a combination of group skills training and individual psychotherapy. There are four main types of skills that are focus in DBT.

Mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness is cornerstone in DBT. Mindfulness is an open, accepting, non-judgmental awareness. It helps individuals for accepting and tolerating the strong emotions. Therefore mindfulness considered “core” skill, because is essential to implement the other DBT skills successfully. When you’re mindful, you observe your behaviors, emotions and thoughts from outside, without judging and labeling.

The goals of teaching mindfulness skills in Dialectical Behavior Therapy are:

  • Fully observing without judgment
  • Describing without judgmental statements
  • Participating in the activity with fully focus

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance skill is an ability for accepting and tolerating painful events and emotions when, there is no way to solve the problem or get rid of the stressful situation.

Individuals who have low distress tolerance do self destructive behaviors for escaping from severe emotional pain. Self destructive behaviors destroy oneself, one’s family and causes emotional crisis for the long term. Self destructive behaviors include three categories:

1. Self harm.
2. Drug abuse.
3. Suicide.

There are four categories of distress tolerance skills in Dialectical Behavior Therapy:

1. Distraction.
2. Self-Soothing.
3. Improving the moment.
4. Focusing on the pros and cons.

Distress tolerance skills help individuals for tolerating stressful situations and managing difficult emotional states without using Self destructive behaviors.

Emotion Regulation

Individuals with borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and suicidal individuals suffer from uncontrolled emotions such as depression, mania, anger and anxiety. Learning to regulate our emotions enables us to manage our emotions instead of being managed by them.

Emotion Regulation skills include three stages:

  1. understand what you’re feeling
  2. reduce your vulnerability
  3. Decrease emotional suffering.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Our interactions with other people can generate stress. Stress can also lead to self destructive behaviors. On the other hand, our relationships are the effective tools for coping with stress. Interpersonal response patterns taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy include effective strategies for asking for what you want.

DBT help people improve their relationships and manage conflict more effectively.