What is DBT?
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, is a type of behavioral therapy that helps those struggling with emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance issues. While it is very effective at treating those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), it can also be very effective at treating those with depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, substance use and a variety of other symptoms. In fact, the skills taught in the group can be effective for almost any individual.
DBT was created by Marsha Linehan in the 1980’s after she recognized that the strategies used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) weren’t always effective at treating people with Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT adds mindfulness and validation practices to existing behavior and emotional modification strategies, balancing the need for both acceptance AND change, two opposing forces. In DBT, clients are taught a number of skills that help reduce self-harming behaviors and allow clients to feel a better sense of emotional control and interpersonal effectiveness. Clients are also taught ways to recognize unskillful behavior, become more mindful of the moment, and find ways to cope effectively.
What is Borderline Personality Disorder?
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is characterized by a pervasive pattern of instability in emotions, interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects. It is usually present starting in early adulthood and in a variety of contexts. Many individuals diagnosed with BPD have a high degree of instability in their relationships, they may engage in self-harming behaviors, and generally experience a high degree of emotional suffering. One is not required to meet the criteria for BPD to participate in the DBT group.
What is DBT Therapy?
DBT Therapy is a structured behavioral treatment that combines concepts from cognitive behavioral therapy with Eastern mindfulness and acceptance skills. It is a highly effective and wholistic approach addressing four main areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT therapy is practiced by highly trained therapists and consists of individual DBT, DBT Skills Group, phone coaching, homework. In addition, DBT therapists must participate in a consultation team. DBT is an evidenced-based treatment, which means it has been well researched and there is a body of data showing its efficacy.
DBT Skills Groups are where the skills are taught in a highly supportive, nonjudgmental class-like setting and run by two highly-trained therapists. While the DBT Group is a part of a comprehensive program, not all individuals need the program in its entirety and may choose to join just the DBT Skills Group part of treatment. This is allowed on a case by case basis.