DBT – Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT is a therapeutic method developed by Marsha Linehan used to treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder. It uses cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation. It teaches mindful awareness, distress tolerance and acceptance.

There are 16 classes total that focus on 4 areas: mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.

Mindfulness is the foundation for all the skills taught in DBT. Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention nonjudgmentally to the present moment. It’s about living int he moment and experiencing emotions fully but with perspective.

Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on asking for needs, saying no and interpersonal conflict. It focuses on situations where the objective is to change something or resisting changes someone else is trying to make. The skill idea is to maximize the chances the person’s goals are being met in specific situations without jeopardizing relationships or self-respect.

Emotion regulation includes labeling emotions, reducing vulnerability to “emotional mind”, increasing mindfulness to current emotions, and applying distress tolerance techniques.

Distress tolerance focuses on accepting, finding meaning in, and tolerating distress. The idea is to accept the situation and oneself in a nonjudgmental fashion. The idea is to calmly recognize negative situations and their impact instead of becoming overwhelmed and/or hiding from them. This allows for wise decision making on whether and how to take action instead of the intense, desperate and destructive emotional responses people with BPD are prone to. Skills include radical acceptance, turning the mind toward acceptance, and distinguishing between “willingness” and “willfulness”. Four crisis survival skills are also taught: distracting oneself, self-soothing, improving the moment, and thinking of pros and cons.


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