Learning About Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Learning About Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) has been getting lots of attention as of late as more and more people are turning to it as an alternative to traditional therapy. But who can help with dialectical behavioural therapy? What kind of therapist specializes in this treatment method? And most importantly, does DBT really work?

DBT Overview

While many people have heard of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), few have heard of its counterpart, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT). The basic premise behind DBT is that human emotions aren’t black and white. It’s not as simple as I feel good, or I feel bad. Rather, our emotions are a mix of positive and negative feelings—and we don’t even realize it. When you think about your own life, you might see how you tend to experience more negative emotions than positive ones; for example, you might be excited about going on vacation one week but really upset when your flight gets delayed by two hours. In order to live a happier life and achieve your goals, it’s important to learn how to manage these mixed emotions in an effective way.

The Four Components of DBT

While not a complete list, there are four components of DBT that form its foundation: Mindfulness; Distress Tolerance; Emotional Regulation; and Interpersonal Effectiveness. While these may seem familiar to some, it’s important to understand how these pieces fit together in DBT. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and break down how they can help you reach your mental health goals.

Emotion Regulation

One of DBT’s core techniques is emotion regulation, or learning to spot when you’re feeling anger, sadness, anxiety or another strong emotion and then choosing how to react (or not react) in a productive way. While you might want to yell at a friend who did something hurtful, DBT teaches you how to avoid lashing out and instead respond with a more effective—and less destructive—emotional response.

Skills Training

While many people might think of counselling as merely talk therapy, there are a range of approaches and techniques that can help individuals manage their difficulties. Skills training is a technique designed to help people change their behaviour in order to cope with difficult situations, thoughts or feelings. It’s based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is one of several psychotherapeutic approaches for treating anxiety disorders.

Distress Tolerance

There are two main components to DBT: distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness. The goal of distress tolerance is to learn how to cope with distressing feelings, like anxiety or depression. The goal of interpersonal effectiveness is to help a person deal more effectively with others in their lives. An individual working on improving these skills may work on ways they can accept and be around difficult people while increasing their assertiveness as well as their ability to keep themselves safe if someone becomes abusive.

Mindfulness & Acceptance

The foundations of DBT lie in Eastern spiritual philosophy and are firmly rooted in mindfulness and acceptance. These practices have been proven to increase quality of life for individuals with mental illness, which is why so many DBT programs begin with an extensive lesson on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Mindfulness teaches you how to live in harmony with your surroundings by directing your attention towards what’s happening right now instead of focusing on what’s happened or what might happen.