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Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy



Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a type of psychotherapy that was originally designed to treat those who are chronically suicidal or have borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Today, DBT is recognized as an effective therapeutic approach for many forms of mental illness. The first part of its name comes from dialectics: The practice of changing our perspective of things that appear to be opposites, but are in fact each crucial to our understanding of the other. In practice, this most often refers to the balance of acceptance and change.

DBT is broken down into four main skills:

  • Mindfulness:Mindfulness helps us focus our attention on the present moment, noticing what’s going on both within and outside of ourselves, with the goal of becoming and staying more centered.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness:This helps us build, maintain and improve relationships – both with people we’re close to and with those we’re just getting to know.
  • Emotion Regulation:Though to a certain extent, we are who we are and our feelings are part of us, we can in fact learn to improve control over our emotions, helping to bring them into better balance.
  • Distress Tolerance:This encourages higher tolerance and better handling of crisis situations, as well as accepting things as they are even though they may not be what we want.

Here’s how each of these skills connect with the overall theme of acceptance and change:

How DBT Works

One example of DBT, and one of its foundational skills, is the Wise Mind. According to dialectical behavior therapy, we operate within three states of mind: the Emotion Mind, the Reasonable Mind and the Wise Mind. By using various charts and real-life examples, therapists guide participants through an understanding of their choices and what state of mind was driving those actions. This therapeutic practice also relies heavily on homework and the application of learned skills in daily life.

Is DBT Effective?

There is substantial evidence to support DBT’s ability to treat borderline personality, chronic suicidality, depression, substance use disorders and eating disorders. One study on the effectiveness of DBT for eating disorder sufferers showed that participants who received DBT skills training saw more of a reduction in their binge and purge behaviors compared to those who did not, whether or not they received other forms of treatment.

DBT is also proven effective in treating addiction and dual diagnoses (co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders). The four main skills of DBT – mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance and emotion regulation – are especially useful for helping people suffering from co-occurring disorders navigate the challenges of this complicated condition.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Teens and Young Adults

Teens and young adults are at a vulnerable time in their lives. For some young people, unpredictable emotions, social awkwardness and uninformed decision-making can lead to harmful consequences. DBT specifically targets the behaviors and thoughts that lead young people to make destructive choices.

Our expert team of therapists at Sandstone Care are extensively experienced in helping young people overcome their unique challenges using DBT and a variety of other treatment methods. For more information on how we can help your family, call us at 888-850-1890 today.

Mindfulness for Teens and Young Adults in Recovery
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
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