3 minute read
Looking for a way to…
- Deal with emotions and stress, while improving your ability to manage distress?
- Understand your feelings and perceptions?
- Promote better, healthier relationships?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, it might be time to explore DBT as an option for therapy.
What is DBT?
DBT, short for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, was pioneered by psychologist Marsha Linehan in the 1980s, and stems from a popular form of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT.
DBT maintains CBT’s structured exploration of the thoughts, perceptions, and experiences underlying our emotional experience and distress, while also borrowing from Eastern philosophy. In DBT, Linehan incorporated concepts of mindfulness, acceptance, and the balance of opposites, which in philosophy is called “dialectics.”
Research over the past 30 years has shown DBT to be effective in helping people struggling with mood disorders, trauma, self-injury, and chemical dependency. Linehan herself publicly shared that she has struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder, and that her first-hand experience led her to formulate DBT.
How does DBT work?
DBT addresses five core areas, each with its own related skills:
- Mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches us to live in and pay attention to the present moment, instead of getting sucked into worries about the past, future, or outside world. It helps us focus on ourselves, our present experience, and our present state of mind; and to better understand and control where our focus goes.
- Distress tolerance. In life, we have to experience the good and the bad. When we do encounter negative emotions or situations, there are ways to tolerate them more effectively and not get overwhelmed. Distress tolerance helps us get through those tough moments without making them worse.
- Middle path. How many times have you struggled with either giving your all or giving nothing? To achieve a balanced life, we have to learn to walk the middle path. The world is not black and white. The middle path helps us see the shades of gray, and recognize our sometimes faulty perceptions about ourselves and the world around us.
- Emotion regulation. Emotions serve a purpose, and living with too little or too much emotion can lead to struggle; we want to learn to take our feelings for what they are and regulate their intensity and frequency. Emotion regulation helps us increase our capacity to enjoy the positives, decrease what makes us vulnerable to difficult emotions, and manage the challenging feelings when they do happen.
- Interpersonal effectiveness. We can learn to be more effective with others—to get what we want, and to get people on our team to support us. Interpersonal effectiveness helps us maintain healthy communication in relationships and limit unstable relationships. It teaches us to maintain self-respect in relationships and stay true to who we are and what we value.
How can DBT help you?
If you’ve struggled with:
- Feeling controlled by your emotions
- Unstable or “drama”-filled relationships
- Difficulty building trusting, healthy relationships
- Understanding/accepting your own experience
- Maintaining a positive outlook
Then DBT might help you manage and understand your own emotions, while building healthier relationships with the people close to you.
If you have questions about DBT, or want to explore DBT skills, reach out to Midwest Counseling & Diagnostic Center, an outpatient group mental health practice in Chicago. We are highly trained, compassionate therapists who are dedicated to providing the most current research-backed techniques and treatment—including DBT.