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Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). DBT is an evidence-based approach to therapy created by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s. DBT was developed to treat clients with borderline personality disorders. DBT is often used in group therapy as well as in individual therapy.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy focuses on 4 key areas:

1. Mindfulness

2. Distress Tolerance

3. Interpersonal Effectiveness

4. Emotion Regulation

Mindfulness: Mindfulness helps clients increase their self-awareness skills. Mindfulness helps clients to approach their thoughts and behaviors curiously, explore them nonjudgmentally, and identify areas for growth. Mindfulness teaches clients to focus on the here-and-now and helps them to slow down reactivity and automaticity.

Distress Tolerance: Distress Tolerance helps clients to learn to increase their tolerance as the name says. It helps clients learn to cope with difficult emotions and painful experiences in healthy ways. DT helps clients to learn to become more comfortable with uncomfortable emotions. Distress Tolerances helps clients build resiliency and emotional strength.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: Interpersonal Effectiveness helps clients learn to build better relationships through improving communication skills. As with DT, clients learn to get comfortable with discomfort by learning to communicate their emotions more effectively. IE teaches clients how to respectfully communicate, how to reduce passive aggressive behaviors, and how to validate and express their needs to others and to themselves.

Emotion Regulation: Emotion Regulation helps clients learn to acknowledge, name, and validate their emotional experiences. ER teaches clients tools to regulate their emotional states in healthy ways.

Why Should You Care About Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

While DBT was developed to treat borderline personality disorders, research has shown DBT to be effective in working with a variety of clients. Research has shown DBT to be effective with clients who experience suicidal ideations, self-harming behaviors, and who have difficulty regulating their moods and emotions.

Thus, if you are experiencing difficulties managing your emotions/moods, or if you experience suicidal ideations and behaviors, or if you engage in self-harm, DBT could be an effective type of therapy for you. There is no one size that fits all approach to therapy. You can try different things to help you move forward.

DBT can help you identify and name the areas you have difficulties with. It also empowers you to validate your experiences and to ask for what you need. DBT helps you improve your skills which boosts self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.

Photo cred: Priscilla du Preez/

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