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  • Sarah Rossmiller LPC

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): What Is It and How Can It Help You?

DBT, founded by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, initially targeted borderline personality disorder (BPD), but its benefits have rippled out to aid various mental health struggles worldwide. Influenced by Zen Buddhism principles, this therapeutic approach blends cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness, validation techniques, and dialectical principles.

Understanding DBT

At its heart, DBT operates on dialectics, balancing acceptance with change. It's about acknowledging where you are while striving for growth. Through DBT, individuals learn to manage emotions, enhance relationships, and bolster resilience.

Acceptance doesn't mean complacency; it's about acknowledging reality. Simultaneously, change involves striving for improvement. DBT navigates this delicate balance, empowering individuals to embrace themselves and their journey while actively pursuing positive change.

DBT Dialectic Balance

Flexibly Incorporating DBT Tools

In traditional DBT, therapy usually involves weekly one-on-one sessions, group classes to learn new skills, phone support, and teamwork among therapists. But therapists can mix and match DBT tools to suit each person's needs.

For example, in your sessions, your therapist might teach you specific DBT skills or concepts. They might incorporate mindfulness exercises into relaxation techniques or use validation strategies in your conversations. This approach can make therapy more effective and tailored to what you need.

Examples of DBT Tools

DBT offers a toolbox filled with strategies to help you navigate through life's ups and downs. Here are some examples:

- Emotion Regulation Skills: These techniques help you identify and manage strong emotions. For instance, you might practice mindfulness to stay aware of your feelings, try doing the opposite action to what your emotions urge you to do, or use PLEASE skills to take care of your physical and emotional well-being.

- Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills: These strategies assist you in communicating your needs, setting boundaries, and nurturing relationships. You could learn DEAR MAN to express yourself clearly and assertively or use GIVE to maintain a positive connection with others.

- Distress Tolerance Skills: When facing tough situations, these coping techniques help you stay resilient without making things worse. TIP skills might involve changing your body temperature or engaging in intense exercise, while ACCEPTS can guide you to distract yourself in healthy ways.

- Mindfulness Practices: These exercises train you to be more present and accepting of the moment. Whether through mindfulness meditation, observing your thoughts without judgment, or fully engaging in what you're doing, mindfulness can bring a sense of calm and clarity to your life.

Pros and Cons of DBT

DBT boasts numerous benefits: it's supported by research, aids skill development, and encourages empowerment. However, it has its downsides. Its structured nature can feel overwhelming for some, and its focus on behavior change might overlook deeper issues. Additionally, DBT requires a considerable time investment and may not be accessible to everyone. To address these concerns, seeking a therapist who blends DBT with a more adaptable approach can be helpful.

Embracing the Potential of DBT

In essence, DBT offers a toolkit for personal growth and resilience. By integrating its techniques into therapy, clients can gain practical skills for navigating life's hurdles. Despite its limitations, DBT's emphasis on balance, validation, and empowerment offers a valuable framework for anyone striving for a fulfilling life.

Whether you're struggling with emotional dysregulation, interpersonal difficulties, or other mental health concerns, DBT offers a pathway toward healing, growth, and transformation.

Rebellious Wellness Therapy


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