What is DBT?

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that was created by Marsha Linehan and is one of several evidence-based treatments. DBT integrates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy and Zen mindfulness. It was originally developed to treat those who had Borderline Personality Disorder, but has been shown to be an effective treatment for many different disorders such as anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, addictions, and depression.

How can DBT help me?

DBT skill have been proven to help increase well-being, attention to the present moment, and increasing positive emotional experiences while decreasing negative emotions and distress. Many people who feel overwhelmed by their emotions and feel like they cannot cope with their life or wish to cope better with their life can benefit from DBT skills.

Tell me more about DBT:

There are four elements in DBT. Every DBT module/group of skills has the underpinnings of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the first element of DBT. In its simplest form is bringing oneself back to the present. It is the act of noticing one is not present and coming back to the now. It is a deceptively simple skill, that is an ever-moving target. Mindfulness is the underpinnings of DBT because without being aware of the now and what you are doing or feeling, you cannot change your response. Mindfulness helps us to implement new skills.  

Interpersonal Effectiveness is the second element of DBT. It is how to do I get along with others, how do I verbalize my needs, how to I get my needs met, how to I build healthy relationships, how do I end unhealthy relationships, and how do I balance my relationships and my needs. Interpersonal effectiveness skills help us all to navigate our relationship both personal and professional. It also helps us start to have a healthier relationship with ourselves.

Emotion Regulation is the third element of DBT. Emotion regulation is how do we feel and control our feelings. It is an essential skill to having healthy relationships and feeling confident in ourselves. In this module you will learn how to name your emotions, know what your emotions feel like, decrease negative emotions, decrease emotional vulnerability, decrease emotional suffering. This element of DBT helps us to cope with our emotions and the world around us. Many times, we are not in control of how we feel, but we can be in control of how we express our feelings.

Distress Tolerance is the fourth element to DBT. Distress tolerance is how do we help ourselves when we are upset? In distress tolerance we learn the skills of how to survive a crisis, being able to live in acceptance (event when we do not like reality), and how to take care of your own needs. Distress tolerance is another essential skill that allows us to help ourselves. As adults we need to know how calm and sooth ourselves in difficult situations. This skill enables us to do just that!

This month each Monday we will break down one of these skills to help you understand more about DBT and how you can start using it today!

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Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC

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