Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) teaches clients Emotional Regulation Skills to manage their moods, emotions and thoughts. DBT helps to regulate not only the relationships we have with ourselves, it also helps us regulate the relationships with others by learning DBT Interpersonal Effectiveness skills. It also provides the maintenance DBT skill of Mindfulness to help clients maintain and regulate their wellbeing. DBT Distress Tolerance skills are the lifeboat skills that clients deploy when feeling overwhelmed by powerful and often destructive urges and intense emotions.
Aim of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
DBT will help you learn skills that can help you regulate your emotions, problem behaviours and maintain relationships. DBT has four core modules:
Emotional Regulation – DBT can help us to learn how to develop skills to help manage our emotions when they become overwhelming and out of control, clients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) often feel like they are living on a roller coaster ride and have little control over their feelings and emotions. The Emotional Regulation skills will help you develop a more balanced approach to emotions and feelings.
Interpersonal Effectiveness – Clients learn how they can get their needs met more effectively, how to maintain relationships and have a healthy relationship with themselves. Your DBT Therapists will teach you the skills you need to be able to regulate relationships, the will help you look at different ways to ask for what you need in relationships and how to say ‘No’ by learning how to set boundaries.
Mindfulness – There has been plenty of research that has shown that practising mindfulness can be a very effective way of metabolising distress and relieving stress levels. DBT mindfulness can help relieve stress and help one to feel more grounded and centred. Mindfulness skills will bring you back into the moment so you can respond in a more effective manner to what is happening in the present moment.
Distress Tolerance – When a person is vulnerable to being emotionally triggered it can feel exhausting and hopeless, with the DBT Distress Tolerance skills clients are able to learn highly effective skills that help them manage the extremes of emotional dysregulation.
What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a modified form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) that was originally developed purely to help sufferers of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Whilst still primarily used to treat BPD, it has also been adapted for use in the treatment of a variety of other mental health conditions. It may prove useful in treatment programmes for sufferers of various conditions, specifically for patients who exhibit self-destructive behaviour and emotional control issues, such as those suffering from substance abuse and eating disorders.
How May Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Be Delivered?
Depending on the nature of your condition and the therapists you choose to work with, DBT may be offered in a variety of different settings, including the following:
- Group Therapy – For BPD sufferers, treatment in a group setting is often the most effective option. This is because it is much easier to work on interpersonal skills and emotional control in a group environment. Learning how to control your emotions when dealing with others is a difficult topic to tackle in a one-to-one setting.
- Individual Therapy – When dealing with issues that affect the individual’s ability to function normally in their daily life, individual therapy is sometimes the most appropriate treatment format. However, this depends to a large extent on the nature of the condition and the individual seeking treatment.
- Remote Guidance – Both Individual and group therapy sessions may be conducted remotely, i.e. over a Zoom call. However, remote guidance in this context refers to shorter sessions, most often conducted over the phone, in which therapists help patients to deal with a specific situation they are currently facing.
No matter the setting in which your Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is delivered, it is important to ensure that your therapist is fully qualified and experienced. Only an experienced therapist or practitioner, with the appropriate qualifications, is in a position to accurately diagnose patients and to provide them with the specific treatment they require.
What Are the Primary Benefits of Professional DBT Therapy for BPD?
When working with an experienced DBT practitioner, you will have the opportunity to learn how to achieve the seemingly contradictory goals of accepting yourself as you are and finding better ways to behave and react to a variety of different circumstances in the future. A sympathetic and experienced therapist can lead you through a personal journey that starts with validation of who you are and your self-worth, and finishes with the mastering of a new set of life skills: skills that have the potential to transform the way you lead your life in the future.
Whilst each individual will follow their own treatment programme, designed to achieve certain personal goals, there are a number of general components of DBT that can be found in all effective programmes:
- Learning Strategies for Acceptance and Change – Learning how to tolerate current circumstances and the emotions they evoke is a very important component of any treatment plan for BPD. Of equal importance is learning how you can make meaningful, positive changes to the way you interact with others in different types of situations and circumstances.
- Analysing and Altering Behavioural Patterns – By paying close attention to the patterns of behaviour you tend to exhibit in your daily life, you can analyse your actions and replace destructive ones with healthier alternatives.
- Changing Thoughts and Beliefs – This is often one of the most challenging parts of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy but it is also one of the most essential. It is only by working on your core beliefs and thought patterns that you will be able to make lasting changes to the way you interact with the environments in which you find yourself and the people who are around you on a daily basis.
- Mastering Effective Communication – By learning how to communicate effectively with the people you encounter in your daily life, you will be able to avoid many of the more distressing situations that you currently face on a regular basis. In those situations that are unavoidable, effective communication skills will help you to maintain control over both the situation itself and over your thoughts and emotions.
- Developing and Utilising Your Strengths – Whether you are aware of them or not, every individual possesses certain attributes and strengths that can be used to make life easier. By identifying and developing your own unique strengths, you can prepare yourself to cope with all types of future situations and circumstances in a more calm and balanced manner.
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After completing a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy programme that includes all the above-mentioned components, along with strategies that are designed to help you cope with specific personal challenges, you should find it much easier to deal with anything that life throws at you, whilst remaining calm and under control.