What is DBT?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and it is now recognized as the gold standard psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has shown that it is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.
We Teach DBT
Our DBT skills training group is focused on enhancing clients' capabilities by teaching them behavioral skills. The group is run like a class where the group leader teaches the skills and assigns homework for clients to practice using the skills in their everyday lives. Our groups meet on a weekly basis for approximately 1.5 hours and it takes 12 weeks to get through the full skills curriculum, which is often repeated, to continue to learn and grow with these skills.
What Skills Are Taught In DBT?
DBT includes four sets of behavioral skills.
- Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
- Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
- Emotion Regulation: how to change emotions that you want to change
There is increasing evidence that DBT skills training alone is a promising intervention for a wide variety of both clinical and nonclinical populations and across settings.
What Does "Dialectical" Mean?
The term "dialectical" means a synthesis or integration of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals. In addition, all of the skills and strategies taught in DBT are balanced in terms of acceptance and change. For example, the four skills modules include two sets of acceptance-oriented skills (mindfulness and distress tolerance) and two sets of change-oriented skills (emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness).
How Effective Is DBT?
Research has shown DBT to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, non-suicidal self-injury, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance use, anger, and depression and improving social and global functioning.
Information provided by: The Linehan Institute