Brief Overview of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

What is D.B.T.?

D.B.T. or Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been proven to be effective in helping people manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  Many people are born with emotions that run high, others experience neglect or trauma at a critical time in their development, which can literally change the way our brain functions (McKay, Wood, & Brantley, 2007).  Sometimes when the pattern our brain works in changes it makes us more prone to experience negative emotions.  D.B.T. has been shown to be especially beneficial for people with symptoms related to adjustment disorder, eating disorders, mood disorders, and personality disorders. It is adapted in many forms to help ages from young adolescents through adulthood in both individual and group therapy settings.  

 

Parts of D.B.T.

The skills offered through D.B.T. start broad and become very specific and tailored to each person’s’ needs.  Mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance are at the core of D.B.T.  

 

Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally, it’s about knowing what is on your mind.” (Zinn, 2016). In other words, mindfulness is being able to balance our current thoughts and emotions and make the best decision for ourselves.  It can be viewed as a form of meditation to reduce the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain (McKay, Wood, & Brantley, 2007).

 

Interpersonal effectiveness assists us to make new relationships and improve the relationships already in place.  This is achieved through social skill and assertiveness training, listening more effectively, and learning to negotiate (McKay, Wood, & Brantley, 2007).

Emotion regulation offers techniques for us to recognize emotions, increase the amount of positive emotions we experience, and develop problem-solving skills.  

Distress tolerance teaches us how to distract, self-soothe, and develop additional skills to manage physical and emotional pain. These teachings allow us to experience more pleasure from our day-to-day life.

 

DBT Toolbox

Many of the skills learned in D.B.T. overlap with each other, and that is the point. With combining the techniques from section to section people are able to develop a huge toolbox to hammer away at painful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to live a happier and healthier life. I have used DBT with families with adolescents in a group setting where both the parents and children learned concrete skills to interact with one another and others outside the home. With individual work I have guided people to become more comfortable with healthy confrontation and assertiveness. Through new skills and insight they can navigate their way through beginning conversations with new people to difficult conversations with a partner or spouse.  

 

*If you are interested in trying out D.B.T. for yourself or a loved one, contact Sloan at sloan.balancestresstx@gmail.com