What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Updated: Aug 29
This article is part of a series of blogs that are meant to highlight the different modalities of therapy our Psychotherapists at Your Story Counselling utilize, check out our other articles to learn more about the various therapeutic models we use!
So, What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy?
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It was originally developed to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder and works by teaching skills to manage emotions, decrease conflict in relationships, and improve quality of life. The aim of DBT is to help people tolerate distress without making situations worse. This form of therapy can help folks better cope with stressful situations like breaking up with a partner after an argument and help to reduce destructive or harmful (to self and/or others) behaviors when feeling overwhelmed and upset.
The focus of DBT is to help people gain skills that improve their quality of life, particularly emotion regulation skills, interpersonal effectiveness skills, and distress tolerance skills. Although the focus of DBT is on the present moment and on what you can do now to improve your life, this does not mean that the model doesn't acknowledge how past experiences might be affecting you currently. In fact, most research points to disorders such as Borderline Personality (BPD) originating from a past history of trauma. In therapy, your clinician will utilize a mixture of DBT and other trauma-informed therapeutic techniques to help find the best blend of practice and support for you.
The focus of DBT is to help people gain skills that improve their quality of life, particularly emotion regulation skills, interpersonal effectiveness skills, and distress tolerance skills.
DBT can also be used for other mental health conditions, such as depression and eating disorders. DBT has found success in treating many other problems and populations. DBT has been used to help people with eating disorders, PTSD, substance use disorders, and more. It has also been used with people who don't have a diagnosis but are struggling with problems like anxiety or depression.
Interested in learning more? Ready to find closure towards the past so that you can better plan and create your own desired future? Take a look at our team to see who offers DBTand/or book a free 15-minute consultation with one of our therapists now!
History of DBT
The term Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) was first coined by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s. Linehan was a clinical psychologist who developed this model in order to help her clients manage their intense emotions by teaching them how to tolerate distress and regulate their moods.
DBT is now commonly used as a treatment for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a condition that is characterized by unstable, intense relationships, high levels of impulsivity, and extreme emotional sensitivity.
The philosophy behind DBT is that an individual's psychological difficulties are caused by contradictory beliefs or behaviors that inhibit a person from reaching their highest potential. The dialectical, or interactive, aspect involves the therapist working with the client to identify these contradictions and help them resolve them using acceptance-based strategies.
More on DBT
DBT focuses on increasing skills that help us tolerate and deal with our emotions and behaviors. We learn to tolerate the things we can't change, accept ourselves, and change the things we can. In DBT we focus on teaching skills in four main areas: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness.
Dialectics refers to the idea that there are two opposing forces at work together simultaneously. A simple example is hot and cold - they can be separate forces or water can be warm (and therefore both hot and cold). This duality also applies to life - sometimes it's good sometimes it's bad - and often both good and bad at the same time! DBT is about finding a balance between acceptance and change.
How Can Therapy Help?
DBT is typically delivered through weekly individual therapy sessions and/or weekly group skills training sessions. The group skills training session teaches four key areas:
Distress tolerance – how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it. For example, you may learn how to distract yourself when you experience intense emotions due to distress.
Mindfulness – being aware of the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Emotion regulation – learning how to change intense emotions that you want to get rid of
Interpersonal effectiveness – learning how to ask for what you want, say no, and how to cope if your request is refused.
Interested in learning more? Ready to find closure towards the past so that you can better plan and create your own desired future? Take a look at our team to see who offers DBT and/or book a free 15-minute consultation with one of our therapists now!
Still, want more? Here’s a helpful video about DBT!
Related Blog - What Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Judy Lui is the founder and clinical director of Your Story Counselling Services, A private practice clinic in Vaughan Ontario servicing individuals, couples, and families across the Greater Toronto Area. As a Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor, Judy is passionate about creating change and making mental health services more safe and accessible to the public. Judy believes in working collaboratively with others so that they can get back to themselves and their preferred way of life and living.
To learn more about the Your Story Counselling Team and the services we offer click here.
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The information provided in this article is intended to be general knowledge and does not constitute as professional advice or treatment. This information is not intended for use in diagnosis or treatment. Please do not share or distribute this article without the proper referencing or written/verbal consent of Judy Lui. Additional information can be found at www.yourstorycounselling.com or requested via email@example.com
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