What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavior therapy that is designed to help people learn to manage their emotions by letting them recognize, experience, and accept them. The goal of DBT is to help people change unhelpful behavior and ways of thinking while accepting who they are. DBT can treat mood disorders, suicidal tendencies, and changing behavioral patterns. Changing behavioral patterns include overwhelming emotions, impulsive behavior, eating disorders, trauma, and dealing with challenging relationships that are filled with conflict and arguments.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

The Four Components of DBT

DBT Skills Training Group

The DBT skills training group focuses on enhancing capabilities by teaching behavioral skills. This is like going to a normal classroom where a teacher teaches skills and delegates given tasks and homework. This helps clients practice using these skills in their everyday lives. The group meets weekly, and the course runs for a year at a time.

DBT Individual Coaching

DBT individual therapy focuses on helping clients with specific skills and motivations for specific events and challenges in their lives. Individual therapy takes place once a week and works concurrently with the skills training group.

DBT Consultation Team

The DBT consultation team inspires, motivates, and supports the therapists to remain competent and focused to provide the best treatment they possibly can. They meet once a week and function as a support base.

Behavioral Skill Modules

There are four behavioral skills modules for clients to work through:

Mindfulness: The practice of being fully aware of and staying in the now, at this moment.

Distress Tolerance: Tolerating pain in situations that are difficult.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: How to ask for what you want and say no with love and tolerance.

Emotion Regulation: How to lower susceptibility to the vulnerability of painful emotions and change.

DBT Treatment Stages

There are four treatment stages in dialectical behavior therapy. The severity of the client’s behaviors helps determine which stage the client is in. From there, each therapist works with their client with the aim of progressing towards and reaching a life that the client can experience as one worth living.

Stage 1

In Stage 1, the client is unhappy and miserable with their behavior being out of control. Clients may be involved in types of self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm, suicidal tendencies, and alcohol and drug use. When clients first start their treatment, they very often describe themselves as living in hell. The goal at the end of Stage 1 is for the client to go from self-destructive behaviors to achieving behavioral control.

Stage 2

In Stage 2, the client is described as living a life of quiet desperation. Although their behavior is under control, they continue to suffer most often from traumatic events, feeling the loss of self-worth and low self-esteem. The aim of Stage 2 is to move the client from a space of quiet desperation to a calmer space of emotional experiencing and being comfortable with this feeling.

Stage 3

In stage 3, the client faces the challenges of learning to live life one moment at a time. They set out long-term intentions, short-term goals, and start to build their self-respect. One small step at a time, clients learn to find peace and happiness within themselves. The goal here is that the client learns to lead a life of normality, with happiness and unhappiness.

Stage 4

In stage 4, patients will learn to find a deeper meaning through spiritual existence to meet their life’s goals. During the final stage of DBT, clients begin to feel like part of a greater whole and begin to experience joy and freedom.

Additional Reading:

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