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  • Writer's pictureFrank Pew

What the heck is DBT?

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

DBT, or Dialectical Behavior therapy, is a type of psychotherapy that was developed specifically to treat individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). However, it has since been found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The foundation of DBT is the integration of two seemingly opposing concepts: acceptance and change. On one hand, DBT recognizes and accepts that individuals with BPD or other mental health conditions have inherent difficulties and challenges that are unlikely to change completely. On the other hand, DBT also emphasizes the importance of making changes in one's life to improve mental health and overall functioning.

DBT is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), but it includes additional elements, such as mindfulness and distress tolerance skills. DBT therapists work with their clients to help them understand and regulate their emotions, increase their self-awareness, and improve their relationships with others.

In DBT treatment, clients participate in both individual therapy sessions and group skills training sessions. The individual therapy sessions provide a space for clients to discuss their experiences, feelings, and challenges in a supportive and nonjudgmental environment. The group skills training sessions, on the other hand, are focused on teaching clients specific skills that can help them manage their emotions, reduce their distress, and improve their relationships. These skills include:

  1. Mindfulness: This is the core skill that all of the other skills are stacked on to. Learn how to be fully present in the moment and paying attention to one's thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. It can help clients to stay focused and avoid getting caught up in negative or distracting thoughts.

  2. Emotion regulation: This involves learning to identify and change unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior that lead to negative emotions. Clients are taught how to identify triggers, and manage their emotions in a healthy way.

  3. Interpersonal effectiveness: Cultivate the skills to communicate effectively and assertively, while still maintaining one's self-respect and the respect of others. Clients are taught how to set boundaries, handle conflict, and maintain positive relationships.

  4. Distress tolerance: Learn how to handle intense emotions in a healthy way, without making the situation worse. Clients are taught how to tolerate distress, and cope with it in a constructive manner.

DBT is a well-researched and evidence-based form of treatment that has been shown to be highly effective for many individuals. While it can be challenging, the skills and techniques taught in DBT can help clients to improve their mental health, increase their self-awareness, and lead a more fulfilling life.

If you're interested in exploring how Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can benefit your mental health, we're here to help. At Pew Psychotherapy, I offer personalized DBT services that can support your journey towards emotional well-being and a life worth living.

Contact me to learn more about our services and how we can work together to create a brighter, more balanced future for you. Your path to a healthier, happier life begins with a simple step – reach out today.

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