Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Authored by Hugh Soames

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Philippa Gold

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, also known by the acronym DBT, is a therapeutic approach that helps individuals deal with various issues from mental health disorders to addiction. DBT is a type of psychotherapy that is used to treat people who suffer from very intense emotions. The psychotherapy is often used for individuals experiencing borderline personality disorders (BPD).

 

DBT Vs CBT

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a version of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but has been adapted to treat patients in specific ways. Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s by combining behavioral science techniques with elements of Zen Buddhism.

 

She adapted mindfulness and meditation practices of Zen Buddhism to help patients look inward. It is a unique approach that has helped thousands of people overcome their addiction to drugs and alcohol and mental health disorders11.A. L. Chapman, Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Current Indications and Unique Elements, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/. DBT is a talk therapy that treats individuals by allowing them to gain treatment through communication. It was designed mostly for people who self-harm and suffer from BPD.

Advantages of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

 

DBT is considered an evidence-based treatment. It has been used effectively for the last 30 years to treat a variety of disorders. Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be used to effectively treat individuals prone to intense emotional situations as well as mental health disorders.

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is used to treat patients with:

 

  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-harming
  • OCD
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Anger and/or violent behavior

 

DBT can help individuals who experience extreme mood shifts. It can also be prescribed for persons that are believed to be difficult to treat and at high-risk.

 

Components of DBT Therapy

 

DBT has two key components used in the treatment of clients:

 

  • Individual psychotherapy – This sets out to solve the problems of a person’s behavior issues.
  • Group psychotherapy – Clients learn skills to cope with their mental health disorder and behavior strategies.

 

These coping skills and behavior strategies come from the following four areas:

 

  • Mindfulness – Individual’s improve their ability to accept and be present in the moment.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness – Helps individuals gain and keep self-respect. It also enables them build personal relationships.
  • Distress tolerance – Increases a person’s ability to tolerate negative emotions instead of attempting to escape from their emotions.
  • Emotion regulation – Individuals learn strategies to maintain and alter intense emotions that cause problems.

 

Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

 

Studies have shown that Dialectical Behavior Therapy works with multiple disorders and more than just BPD. Individuals suffering from a variety of disorders can gain the help they need through DBT sessions. Although each case is different, Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been proven to treat mental health disorders in patients22.D. Flynn, M. Kells, M. Joyce, C. Suarez and C. Gillespie, Dialectical behaviour therapy for treating adults and adolescents with emotional and behavioural dysregulation: study protocol of a coordinated implementation in a publicly funded health service – BMC Psychiatry, BioMed Central.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-018-1627-9.

 

Linehan developed DBT to replace the shortcomings of CBT33.A. B. CEO Worlds Best Rehab Magazine, CBT for Addiction | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment, Worlds Best Rehab.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.worldsbest.rehab/cbt-for-addiction/. It was realized that CBT wasn’t working for every client, especially those needing help with mental health disorders and intense emotions. Clients can focus on regulating their emotions and accepting them through DBT treatment. It has helped thousands and continues to be a highly prescribed treatment for individuals.

 

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  • 1
    1.A. L. Chapman, Dialectical Behavior Therapy: Current Indications and Unique Elements, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/
  • 2
    2.D. Flynn, M. Kells, M. Joyce, C. Suarez and C. Gillespie, Dialectical behaviour therapy for treating adults and adolescents with emotional and behavioural dysregulation: study protocol of a coordinated implementation in a publicly funded health service – BMC Psychiatry, BioMed Central.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-018-1627-9
  • 3
    3.A. B. CEO Worlds Best Rehab Magazine, CBT for Addiction | Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment, Worlds Best Rehab.; Retrieved September 28, 2022, from https://www.worldsbest.rehab/cbt-for-addiction/
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