What Can Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Do For You?
What Is DBT?
DBT is a form of mental health treatment used for people with personality disorders or who suffer from behaviors they don't want to have, such as suicidal thoughts. The treatment, such as mindfulness therapy, gives the client many skills to help them cope, such as being mindful, and controlling their emotions, and teaches people to live a better life.
In case you were wondering, dialectical is when opposites are integrated. What one of the opposites that DBT will tackle is change and acceptance. A therapist will accept the client for the person they are and tell them that their behavior should change. The theme of opposites is quite prevalent in DBT, as we'll soon be discussing.
DBT is rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and psychology research Marsha Linehan developed it. However, it was developed in the late 1980s, so it's still quite new compared to other psychological treatment forms. DBT's original target demographic was people with borderline personality disorder, but it's also been shown to treat other disorders.
Dr. Linehan was using CBT to treat her clients, and many of the elements of CBT are the same as what you can find in DBT. However, CBT focused too much on changing the client, which prevented many clients from continuing. The clients felt like their emotional needs were being ignored, and the therapist ignored their suffering while being too confident with their treatments. As a result, clients would quit treatment altogether.
Upon realizing this, Linehan noticed that the clients stayed whenever their emotional needs were being fulfilled. These involve strategies to help clients tolerate their emotions and techniques to help them live better lives. Soon, the clients felt like the therapists could empathize better with them, and they kept doing the treatment. This led to CBT turning into DBT, which focused more on helping the client's emotions before teaching them how to change their lives.
What Can It Treat?
DBT is shown to treat quite a few mental disorders, including:
- Eating disorders
- Suicidal thoughts
- Borderline personality disorder. It's one of the most effective treatments for BPD.
As you can see, it mostly targets our undesirable behaviors or thoughts. If you have any of these, talk to a therapist and see if DBT is right for you. It isn't a cure, but it can help you cope and reduce the effects of your disorder.
What Is DBT About?
With any form of therapy, there are many components, principles, and terms that DBT uses. It's a treatment that requires input from the client as well. While goals may vary, the main goal of DBT is to take undesirable behaviors and thoughts and replace them with better ones.
DBT has five components.
Component 1: Capability Enhancement
We all have our capabilities, and DBT is set to make them grow by teaching skills to modify their behavior. When you go to skills training, it's almost like you're in a class. You may be in a group, and you may get "homework" for you to do. The homework consists of practicing what you've learned. If you encounter a situation where you can use that skill, then all the more advantageous for you. The sessions are weekly, and they last for about 2-3 hours. So it may take about five months for you to use all your skills. However, some classes aren't as long, so talk to your therapist if you can't handle a typical class.
There are five main skills to learn:
- Emotional Control: this teaches you how to be aware and control your emotions whenever an undesirable one pops up.
- Mindfulness: perhaps the most well-known skill. Mindfulness teaches people how to be aware of the present. Most people lack self-awareness, and mindfulness can have many benefits.
- Distress tolerance: When faced with a tough problem, it can teach you how to survive it.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: It's hard to say no, or ask someone for a favor. Interpersonal effectiveness teaches you to do both and still be respectful.
Component 2: Motivation Enhancement
Individual therapy is used when enhancing motivation. Many of these skills need the drive to use them, but most clients lack that motivation. This is where component 2 comes in.
Component 3: Coaching
DBT therapists will talk to you on the phone and support their clients when they have a tough situation. Sometimes, a client needs a refresher or motivator outside of therapy, and the good thing about DBT is that the therapists are just a phone call away.
Component 4: Case Management
However, there comes a time when the client needs to manage their problems on their own. Case management teaches the client how to handle their problems, and the therapist will consult them only in an emergency.
Component 5: Supporting The Supporters
There is also a consultation team for DBT therapists. Sometimes, a therapist will have a difficult client, and the consultation team provides therapy for their therapists by keeping them motivated and teaching them skills the therapist can use. Sometimes, even your therapist needs a therapist. They usually meet every week and practice their skills, such as mindfulness. Then, there is a client review.
This almost adds some extra peace of mind to the client when deciding to take DBT. It must be effective if the therapists use their techniques to support themselves.
The Priorities Of DBT
When a client goes to get therapy, they rarely have one problem. Instead, they'll have multiple problems that require treatment. A therapist can't just choose a random problem and treatment. They have to organize, and DBT therapists have a list of problems to treat.
Obviously, problems that can have a risk of death to the client are their first target. Suicidal thoughts and self-harm are such examples. However, giving the client the will to live can help their other treatments go smoothly.
Then, they target behaviors that may stop the treatment from going smoothly. For example, if the client keeps canceling for no good reason, that behavior needs to stop. If the client won't cooperate, then the therapist needs to figure out why.
Then, they look at behaviors that can affect the client's life quality. These problems can range from mental disorders, bad behaviors, or personal problems such as finances or children.
Finally, the therapist will teach valuable life skills to the client that they can use to live a great life.
How Treatment Works
With any therapy, there are stages the client goes through. There are four stages in this case, and there is no time limit. Depending on the client, these stages may be shorter or longer.
Stage 1: This stage is trying to help the client learn how to control their behaviors. When they come in, they are likely riddled with behaviors they can't keep under control, and this can be problematic when trying to treat the client.
Stage 2: This involves making the client want to have a great emotional experience. They may have some control over their behaviors, but their emotions are still not under control. This especially applies to patients with PTSD or another behavior that threatens emotions.
Stage 3: The client lists goals they may have learned to have better self-esteem and find their happiness. This involves emotional control usually.
Stage 4 involves the client trying to find a deeper meaning to their life. This can be a spiritual meaning or a way to help them be more connected to the world around them. This will depend on the client's current behavior, and it may be optional.
The fact that the DBT therapists rely on their therapy should prove that it has to be somewhat effective. Clients who applied DBT to their lives found that they were less suicidal, less likely to self-harm, more reliable with scheduling, less likely to abuse substances, and had an overall better quality of life.
If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or self-harm, you need to talk to a professional immediately. Otherwise, if you want to modify an undesirable behavior, learn how to be more mindful of the world around you, and need assistance on reaching your goals, then DBT is quite an effective method for you.
Talk to a counselor to see if DBT can work. Many good counselors are waiting for you. Just remember that you have to work to make it work. You need to be on time for your appointments, stay in contact with your therapist regularly, and apply the skills to your daily life. DBT is highly effective, but you need to put in participation as well. Therapists can't wave a wand and treat you. Instead, they teach you how to be on the right path to living a better life.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Does Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Mean?
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy used in group settings or individual therapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and is also a form of talk therapy.
A DBT therapist strives to teach behavior therapy skills based on cognitive therapy to prevent a person from reverting to destructive behaviors. The behavioral skills that a DBT therapist teaches can be used to help their patient manage complex, painful, and difficult emotions and teaches them healthy ways to resolve conflict rather than using destructive behaviors to distance themselves from the emotions and conflict.
This type of therapy is particularly effective in helping people with mental health disorders that are more prone to destructive behaviors, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Substance Abuse
The behavioral skills taught with this specific form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) help patients live in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. In addition, the behavior therapy skills help the patient control and recognize their emotions, process and deal with them in a way that doesn’t lead to destructive behaviors, and helps them to interact with other people in a better fashion.
What Is The Difference Between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy And Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy, and both are classified as talk therapy. Each one is research-based cognitive therapy, and both can be used as either individual therapy or group therapies.
The main difference between general cognitive behavioral therapy and targeted dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is that in cognitive behavioral therapy, people are taught to identify how their thoughts and emotions interact with one another and are taught therapy skills to help redirect those thoughts.
In dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), on the other hand, patients are taught to identify their thoughts and emotions and the behavioral skills needed to accept those emotions, accept themselves, and help control and manage their emotions.
Find a knowledgeable therapist in CBT and DBT to determine which type of therapy will be the most effective for you.
What Are The 4 Components Of Dbt?
The four main components of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are:
- Mindfulness: Learning to stop focusing on the mistakes of the past or the worries of the future and instead to live in the present. Learning how to accept things as they are happening.
- Distress Tolerance: Rather than trying to avoid, ignore, or bury trauma and negative emotions as they occur, learn to increase your tolerance toward the negative aspects of your condition and the things that happen.
- Emotional Control: Helping to learn therapy skills to manage intense and painful emotions that negatively affect a person’s life, growth, and development. This is an essential skill for a patient not to become overwhelmed by their emotions when they are in the middle of a negative situation. Instead, it teaches them to cope with those feelings and take steps to change those thoughts and feelings.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Teaches patients how to communicate with others infirm, confident, controlled, and assertive ways to be respected and heard while simultaneously strengthening their relationship with that person and maintaining and building on their own self-worth.
This form of therapy was initially developed to help patients manage borderline personality disorder learn how to manage painful emotions. Since its development, however, it has been adapted for treating many mental health conditions and has proven to be particularly effective.
What Is The Goal Of Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
The main goal of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is to take the negative thoughts, feelings, and emotions that a patient is regularly experiencing and transform them into positive behaviors. The goal is to teach patients how to recognize negative emotions and destructive behaviors when they begin to happen and channel that energy and effort into a more positive outcome.
DBT teaches people to accept themselves the way they are for who they are and boost their self-image. Patients are encouraged to recognize their strengths and grow them rather than focus on their shortcomings.
DBT can be a slow and difficult process, so it is important to find a trained therapist in the method and that you trust. It requires a lot of work, but DBT can significantly help people with major mental health conditions overcome some things holding them back from experiencing life.
What Does It Mean To Think Dialectically?
By thinking dialectically, one can look at a certain situation or event from multiple perspectives and viewpoints and arrive at a conclusion that can merge seemingly contradictory information.
Which disorder is best treated with dialectical behavioral therapy?
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is very effective in helping patients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and suicidal behavior. Therapists focus on helping the patients accept their reality and their behavior while guiding them to change undesirable thoughts and behaviors. DBT therapists help patients learn healthy coping mechanisms and improvement of emotion control. Besides BPD and suicidal behavior, dialectical behavioral therapy is also used for treating and managing PTSD, substance use disorder, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.