Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, combines cognitive and behavior therapies in order to provide patients with positive and healthy mechanisms to handle painful emotions. DBT was developed in the 1970s by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. to treat borderline personality disorders. Patients learn how to increase self-awareness, control self-defeating thoughts, modify thinking, and handle conflict and stress through the process of DBT.
Four Core Principles of DBT
DBT is based on four core principles:
1. The primacy of the therapeutic relationship
2. A non-judgmental approach
3. Differentiating between effective and ineffective behaviors
4. Dialectical thinking
The Four Treatment Modules of DBT
The DBT process involves a progression through four treatment modules:
2. Distress Tolerance
3. Emotion Regulation
4. Interpersonal Effectiveness
DBT organizes treatment into stages and targets and, with very few exceptions, adheres strictly to the order in which problems are addressed.
What Are The Benefits of DBT?
DBT aims to help the patient in a very specific, organized fashion, and focuses on changing harmful behaviors.
The following are some of the benefits of DBT:
- Decreasing high risk suicidal and self-harming behavior
- Decreasing therapy interfering behaviors
- Decreasing behaviors that interfere with quality of life
- Learning and mastering behavior skills for mood-independent life choices
- Decreasing symptoms related to trauma, stress, anxiety and depression
- Enhancing and sustaining self-respect
- Assistance with goal setting in order to create a life worth living
By focusing on facts rather than emotions or value judgments such as good/bad or fair/unfair, DBT patients enhance their abilities to respond positively and productively, without descending into self-blame or other destructive thoughts and behaviors.
What Disorders Does DBT Treat?
DBT was originally created to treat those with borderline personality disorder. This therapy can be beneficial for those suffering from a wide range of emotional and/or behavior issues.
The following are among the disorders that may be treated with DBT:
- Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Chemical Dependency/Addiction
- Depression Disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Because of the emphasis on regulating emotions and finding healthier coping mechanisms, DBT is increasingly being incorporated into the treatment of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, compulsive eating and emotional eating. Eating disorders are often characterized by deeply negative emotions, impulsive behavior, and desperate attempts to relieve emotional or psychological pain. According to eating disorder specialists, DBT is a natural fit in treating these life-threatening conditions.
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