Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. While DBT was initially developed to treat those with borderline personality disorder, research has since shown that DBT can successfully treat people with depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and other mental health challenges.
DBT offers individuals comprehensive skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflicts in their relationships. This modality focuses on 4 specific areas of therapeutic skills.
- Mindfulness – Helps individuals be present in the current moment.
- Distress tolerance – Most people try and keep themselves safe from all negative emotions through avoidance or suppression. Distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance to negative emotion.
- Emotion regulation – Offers strategies to manage intense emotions that are the root cause of problems in a person’s life.
- Interpersonal effectiveness – These techniques allow an individual to communicate with others in a confident, assertive way that maintains self-respect and strengthens relationships.
How Does it Work Exactly?
Many of us live our daily lives with a constant stream of uncontrollable negative emotions right under our awareness. These emotions affect how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with other people, including friends, romantic partners and family members. DBT essentially works with individuals to help them find ways to manage their negative emotions so they can feel balanced, in control and able to interact respectfully and successfully. The message at the heart of DBT is acceptance and change.
DBT individual therapy sessions allow you to have one-on-one contact with a trained therapist who will help you apply DBT skills to your daily life, address obstacles that may arise and keep you accountable in implementing your DBT skills.