Developed by Marsha Linehan, a psychologist in the late 80’s, Dialectical Behavior Therapy commonly referred to as DBT, is a cognitive behavioral therapy used to treat borderline personality disorder. It is one of the most effective psychological treatments for patients with the condition. In fact, studies show that it is also effective in countering other related disorders such as depression, eating disorders, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The treatment mainly concentrates on acceptance and problem solving strategies in a dialectical framework. It tries to push for positive behavioral changes by identifying and changing negative thinking patterns. It teaches patients the necessary skills to cope with unhealthy behaviors and change. The basic form of dialectical behavior therapy usually consists of a therapist consultation team, phone coaching, skills training group and individual therapy. All these are designed to help patients develop positive behavioral skills through homework and group work assignments. Phone coaching allows patients to contact their therapists for guidance when a problem arises in-between sessions, while the assignments allow people in treatment to practice what they have learnt in day to day life.
Dialectical behavior therapy incorporates these 4 modules:
1. Mindfulness Skills
Mindfulness skills help patients focus on what is happening currently in a calm way. This is very important, as it helps them take a minute to think and concentrate on what is required to take of care themselves in the moment. It is a great way of patients learning the value of slowing down and focusing instead of succumbing to emotions and acting in a negative way.
2. Distress Tolerance
When emotions are running high, distress tolerance skills can be very handy. They teach people treatment to how to console themselves in positive ways when they are upset instead of hiding from their emotions or becoming overwhelmed by them.
3. Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
These skills help individuals develop constructive ways of associating and dealing with other people when they want or need something from them. This includes respecting themselves and others, communicating and listening effectively, repairing relationships, dealing with difficult individuals and being able to say yes or no in a healthy way.
4. Emotion Regulation Skills
Helps individuals understand themselves and their emotions. Here patients learn about what emotions do and how not to be controlled by them. It teaches people to control their feelings and soothe strong emotions without necessarily acting on them.
How effective is DBT?
Various studies have shown that DBT therapy Los Angeles is very effective in minimizing substance abuse, anger, depression, suicidal behavior, and improving social functioning. Because of its emphasis on using positive coping mechanisms and controlling emotions, DBT has also been integrated into other related personality disorders. For instance, research shows that the therapy equips people suffering from eating disorders with the necessary skills for improving responses to stress, identifying triggers, and applying mindful eating. DBT has also been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for mental issues such as mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and self-harming behaviors.
In addition, according to the National Registry of Evidence based programs and practices, several studies and controlled trials found that 6 to 12 months of DBT reduced cases of suicidal behaviors by a greater percentage than other treatments. One study for example reported that in 22 people who received the therapy, there were only 2 cases of suicidal or other self-injurious behaviors compared to 10 cases in another group of 22 people who were receiving alternative treatment.
Many patients with various psychological disorders have taken back control of their lives using the DBT method. DBT has taught people how to enhance self-awareness, deal with stress and conflict, control negative thoughts and adjust white or black thinking. However, it’s important to consult a licensed mental health professional before deciding on a course of treatment. DBT is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it isn’t for everyone.
One unique feature about Dialectical Behavior Therapy is that it emphasizes accepting uncomfortable thoughts, behaviors and feelings. By coming to terms with what is the cause of their problems, patients see change as something that is inevitable and can easily work with the therapists to develop an effective plan for recovery. DBT is also very effective at delivering long lasting and considerable positive results for people with mental health problems. It uses positive encouragement to reinforce change, helps patients practice the skills learned in their day to day life, and emphasizes the patient’s strengths.