Dialectical and Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical and Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an approach to cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps individuals live with present moment awareness through healthy stress management, emotional processing, and relating with others. This form of treatment helps those who are struggling with emotional health, or who turn to self-destructive behaviors. While it has been proven helpful for conditions such as eating disorders and PTSD, it is profound for those looking to establish more emotional regularity and present moment awareness.
DBT was created in the 1980’s by Dr. Marsha Linehan. One of its fundamental qualities is the use of dialectics: exploring opposites and the dialogue between them. The dialectics process is based on three statements: “all things are interconnected, change is constant and inevitable, and opposites can be integrated to form a closer approximation of the truth.” Dialectics are also used in tandem with validation. DBT utilizes validation because it has been proven to help patients open up to change and the actions it often requires. DBT is now an evidence-based approach that can be used to help a wide range of conditions.
Dialectical and Behavioral Therapy employs different strategies to help patients receive benefits of the approach:
Mindfulness. The most fundamental strategy in DBT is mindfulness, or the ability to stay present to the moment at hand. This strategy is facilitated by guiding the patient toward body sensations and the environment, so they may anchor into what is happening now.
Distress Tolerance. DBT teaches patients how to cope during life’s inevitable challenges, without turning to destructive behaviors. This is facilitated through distraction, improving the circumstance, self-soothing practices, and a pros/cons process.
Interpersonal Skills. This technique helps individuals become more empowered in their relationships. Patients learn how to listen and communicate in a way that amplifies the health of their relationship.
Emotional Health. DBT uses techniques that help patients process intense emotions. This process involves identifying, naming, and changing emotions, so that the individual is able to shift into a positive state of mind.
Dialectical and Behavioral Therapy has many benefits for the patients who experience this treatment. DBT helps patients make positive changes in their lives — both in their own behaviors and in their relationships. It teaches patients to observe their own behavioral patterns, particularly when they turn negative. It equips patients with the ability to choose a productive, efficient behavior. In the process, the patient learns important life skills like collaboration and communication.