Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy for people who struggle with overwhelming emotions, thoughts, and actions. The goal of DBT is to help individuals manage difficult situations in their life more effectively. While there are many types of therapy out there, few have been as successful at reducing suicide rates and improving quality of life as Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Read on to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of this treatment method so you can decide if it’s right for you.
About Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which means it focuses on changing patterns and thoughts while taking into account how they affect actions and emotions. In addition, it is utilized to help people with mental health issues live happier and healthier lives.
The Origins of DBT
Dialectical Behavior Therapy was developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Marsha Linehan, who built the therapy around the following criterion:
- Expanding and sustaining the motivation to transform
- Providing opportunities for further developing skills
- Assimilating new skill sets that can be used in the right circumstances
- Developing the therapist’s abilities and increasing their wishes to effectively treat people
- Providing a secure, nonjudgmental environment to aid with the process of healing
Who is Dialectical Behavior Therapy For?
The techniques used in DBT were originally designed to reduce suicidal thoughts and behaviors in individuals who struggle with intense emotions. Today the therapy is used with great success in:
- Improving self-image and reducing relationship conflicts
- Decreasing anger and irritability
- Increasing positive emotions like joy and interest in life, and decreasing feelings of shame and guilt
- Addressing thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- Treating eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and issues with substance misuse.
6 Main Points of DBT
Dialectical Behavior Therapy follows a six-point structure, and trained therapists use it to promote new thinking methods and develop behavioral skills among clients. They include:
- Acceptance and change—circumstances must first be accepted to make positive changes.
- Behavioral modification—problems are analyzed so that they can be replaced with healthy patterns.
- Cognitive transformation—the focus is on changing actions and thoughts that aren’t beneficial.
- Skillset acquisition—as in learning new skills and hobbies.
- Collaboration and teamwork—clients learn to work collaboratively and as part of a team.
- Recognizing strength—strong points are recognized, as are positive attributes that help others.
Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been shown to effectively reduce negative behaviors in a wide range of populations. For example, in 2010, suicidal individuals who received DBT were half as likely to attempt suicide compared to those receiving treatment as usual.
DBT has also been shown to be effective for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), who are highly likely to attempt suicide. For example, in one study of adolescents with BPD or subthreshold BPD symptoms, those receiving Dialectical Behavior Therapy were less likely than usual care participants to make suicide attempts and required less hospitalization.
How Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Works
There are three forms of DBT, all of which involve talk therapy with a trained specialist.
- One-on-one: A therapist teaches behavioral skills and helps the client adapt them to life’s everyday challenges.
- Group sessions: A professional-led group works in teams to role-play and complete assignments about handling troubling situations.
- Phone coaching: The client can call their therapist between sessions for guidance during difficult times.
What DBT Sessions Looks Like
A typical Dialectical Behavior Therapy session is typically 50 minutes long and meets once or twice a week. The first 20-30% of the time, clients meet with their therapist to discuss whatever issues they want to be addressed. Topics like anger management, healthy relationships and other coping skills are quite common.
Clients then meet with their group therapist for the last 20-30% of each DBT session to discuss problems they’re experiencing due to coping with intense emotions. Methods like role-playing, storytelling, and practicing new techniques provide tools that help clients manage these difficulties more effectively in daily life.
How to Tell if DBT is Right For You
The best way to determine which type of therapy treatment is best for you is to talk with a mental health professional – a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist. They will consider your symptoms, treatment history, and the goals you outline for what you want out of therapy and recommend the best next steps.
Get Started with Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Pasadena CA Today
Annandale Behavioral Health offers Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Pasadena, California. If you or a loved one believes you might benefit from DBT therapy in Pasadena, CA, you can talk with our mental health professionals who are trained in the approach. In addition, our treatment center has several highly trained medical professionals that can help you today, so please feel free to contact us anytime at 1-855-778-8668. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you have or help you with your needs.