Dialectical Behavior Therapy: What is it and how can it help me?

Man smiling after dialectical behavior therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, often referred to as DBT, is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy designed to teach people effective skills for living a more satisfying life. There are four main components of DBT. They are Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation. All four modules emphasize how to handle painful experiences effectively and stay in control of one’s thoughts, emotions and behavior.

Mindfulness is the foundation of DBT and is woven into all of the modules. A mindfulness practice allows people to be aware of what is happening both within them and around them. An important component of this is curiosity and non-judgment. DBT teaches people to notice their internal and external experiences without attaching labels such as “good” or “bad.” Mindfulness allows individuals to just notice what is.

Interpersonal Effectiveness skills teach people how to reach desired outcomes in their relationships. There is a focus on behaving in such a way as to respect both self and others. Interpersonal Effectiveness training helps individuals answer three questions: what do I want, how to I want others to feel about me and how do I want to feel about myself?

Distress Tolerance skills are designed to help people survive emotional and interpersonal crises without making things worse. Self-care, self-soothing and resisting urges to behave impulsively are key components of this module. Moreover, a practice of radical acceptance is incorporated to help people accept what is and reduce the emotional suffering that accompanies resisting reality.

Finally, Emotion Regulation training assists individuals in creating a life worth living. Clarifying values, prioritizing goals and creating realistic plans for goal attainment are key features of this module. Furthermore, skills for checking the facts and remaining mindful and in control of one’s emotions in non-crisis situations are also provided.

DBT skills can be taught in individual or group therapy settings. If you are interested in joining a DBT group at PCS, please give us a call for more information. We look forward to helping you create a life worth living!