What is DBT?
DBT short for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is a therapy approach derived from CBT (click here if you haven’t read the previous blog on CBT!) A significant point that sets it apart from CBT is its emphasis on not only learning to change or cope with unhelpful behaviors and emotions, it strives to help one to accept themselves as they are. Originally designed to help those suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, it is a type of psychotherapy that can also be used to treat other kinds of mental health disorders or to help people who experience emotions very intensely.
The main goal of DBT is to help people build a life that is worth living, meaning to have important and meaningful things in one’s life. Within DBT there is a balance between acceptance and striving for change. This is as, within DBT, one believes that they are doing the best that they can be considering their current life situations, while at the same time acknowledging that there is still room to move forward towards a better and brighter future.
How does DBT work?
DBT works by helping one identify their strengths and be able to positively build on them, while also being able to identify, challenge and learn ways to cope with their negative thoughts or beliefs and finally learning to work out problems through lessons and or role plays, with examples being calming techniques, maintaining social interactions, etc. This is done with the guidance of a therapist within private and group sessions based around four main modules:
- Mindfulness: Learning to be aware of the present moment or situation without judgment or a biased approach. In other words, it means to approach reality neutrally and learning to assess situations purely with the facts rather than injecting unhelpful emotions or thoughts which may only lead to the magnification of negative aspects and a negative reaction.
- Distress Tolerance: Learning to get through difficult or stressful situations without adding further stress or in other words ‘making things worse’ and instead be able to accept reality as it is and cope with it in a calm and calculated manner. Here’s an example, if you were to be stuck in a traffic jam, learning distress tolerance would help you to choose to listen to some music and sit through the frustration/boredom instead of adding fuel to the fire by arguing with fellow drivers and riling oneself up.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Learning how to maintain positive relationships, communicate your needs effectively and to increase self-respect in relationships.
- Emotional Regulation: Learning about and understand their own tolerance and vulnerability to their own emotions. From this, one can learn how to reduce this said vulnerability as a way to relieve the distress or disruption caused by these emotions. By understanding these things and learning various techniques, it can also help to change unwanted or unhelpful emotions that one is harboring.
Not only does DBT have individual and group therapy sessions which will allow you to work on improving behaviors or lessening negative thoughts, but there is also an aspect which is phone coaching. Even outside of therapy, during crisis situations that arise where you may struggle to cope, you have the opportunity to call your therapist who can guide and coach you through the phone! This encourages you to continue practicing using the skills you have learned in your therapy sessions, while also being able to slowly get used to coping with any situations that may arise until one day it will just feel natural to you!
From this, we can see that DBT can help us to navigate what our daily life may throw at us such as stressors, social interactions, maintaining relationships, etc. By learning skills to cope with such situations in DBT, they can be immersed and used in one’s daily life, helping to lessen the struggles faced and slowly improve one’s quality of life. Aside from this, DBT also aims to ensure that one’s daily life is not disrupted, ensuring that one can balance therapy sessions but also be able to live their own life, only helping to improve the quality of it.
Is DBT for you?
DBT is psychotherapy that is especially effective for those who struggle with emotional regulation, which can translate to those who struggle with keeping up with their intense emotions even in their daily life. If your emotions constantly feel like an intense and never-ending rollercoaster ride, so much so that it is affecting your life and you want to be able to make a change in this, DBT may be for you.
It can help those who struggle or experience instability in their emotions, behavioral regulation, thoughts or relationships. Research has also shown that DBT is effective in tackling dangerous behaviors such as unhealthy or dangerous eating behaviors, self-harming, or suicidal behaviors.
If you think that DBT is the right choice for yourself or anyone around you, don’t hesitate to contact a local therapist to seek professional advice and be able to start a journey towards new heights!