Tools of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was developed to treat disorders that are often viewed as difficult to treat. Traditionally, DBT works well for people with borderline personality disorder, self-harm and suicidality. DBT also works well for people with substance dependency concerns and mood disorders.

DBT works by helping you learn to regulate your emotions. The theory behind DBT assumes that some people are more likely to react intensely to certain situations, most commonly occurring in romantic and family relationships. DBT theorizes that some people move towards intensely heightened emotions when compared to the general population. DBT suggests that some people experience extreme emotional ups and downs.

DBT incorporates several techniques when working with clients. DBT believes that support from the therapist is critical to the therapeutic relationship. The therapist will focus on client strengths and not only the presenting concerns. A DBT therapist may also encourage homework, so the client has an opportunity to practice the new skills being taught. There are several techniques that DBT therapists utilize in their work with clients.

Mindfulness could be considered the hammer and nails of the DBT toolbox. Essentially, mindfulness is being consciously aware on the here and now. Mindfulness encourages being present in the now, and limiting fixation on the past or future

Other mindfulness techniques include having a “teflon mind”, which is allowing negative thoughts to slide out of your mind, similar to food not sticking to a teflon skillet.  Meditative practices are strongly encouraged in DBT, as well

A common tool of DBT is opposite to emotion reaction. Opposite reaction occurs when you intentionally do the opposite of what you are feeling. For example, a person may use alcohol to cope with stress or anxiety. Opposite to emotion action would encourage this person to do the opposite of drinking to cope and intentionally, purposely engage in a sober activity even though they do not feel like it.

Radical acceptance is another tool of DBT. Radical acceptance is choosing not to fight present reality, and instead accept the situation for what it is. There are some things in life that cannot be changed. The goal of this tool is to learn to accept life situations with the goal of reducing intense emotional reactions.

DBT heavily focuses on emotion regulation. This skill is taught by helping you learn about your emotions and be able to label them. This skill is meant to encourage self-awareness and processing before moving towards anger or negative reactions.

DBT is a well-researched intervention for a variety of presenting concerns. If you think that DBT could benefit you, please reach out for assistance.

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