Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment. It aims to treat people who see little or no improvement with other therapy models. This treatment focuses on problem-solving and acceptance-based strategies. It operates within a framework of dialectical methods. The term dialectical refers to the processes that bring opposite concepts together such as change and acceptance.

Certified practitioners of DBT offer acceptance and support to people in therapy. Many of the people they work with have conditions described as “difficult to treat.” They work to develop techniques for achieving goals, improving well-being, and effecting lasting positive change.

WHAT IS DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY?

Currently, DBT is used to treat people with chronic or severe mental health issues. Issues DBT treats include self-harm, eating and food issues, addiction, and posttraumatic stress, as well as borderline personality. DBT was originally designed to treat people who had chronic suicidal thoughts as a symptom of borderline personality.

DBT can be used in a variety of mental health settings. It incorporates the following five components:

Capability enhancement.

DBT provides opportunities for the development of existing skills. In treatment, four basic skill sets are taught. These are emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

Generalization.

DBT therapists use various techniques to encourage the transfer of learned skills across all settings. People in therapy may learn to apply what they have learned at home, at school, at work, and in the community. For example, a therapist might ask the person in treatment to talk with a partner about a conflict. The person may use emotion regulation skills before and after the discussion.

Motivational enhancement.

DBT uses individualized behavioral treatment plans to reduce problematic behaviors that might negatively affect the quality of life. For example, therapists might use self-monitoring tracking sheets so sessions can be adapted to address the most severe issues first.