Dialectical Behavior Therapy was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Dr Linehan’s own struggles with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and her insights from living successfully with BPD, have contributed to the development of Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, you and your therapist will seek to create the conditions where gradual transformation becomes possible. In addition, you will have the opportunity to develop coping skills – specific behavioral techniques that you may be able to apply to combat disabling symptoms of mental illness.
In DBT, Learn Validation, Acceptance
Dialectical Behavior Therapy emphasizes validation. The therapist and the client learn to accept rather than struggle with uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
After the client is able to identify and validate thoughts, emotions or behaviors, change becomes possible. The client and therapist can set goals for gradual transformation. The “dialectic” in Dialectical Behavior Therapy alludes to establishing a balance between acceptance and change.
Learning to accept problematic thoughts and urges does not mean that you need to act on them. On the contrary, therapy will seek to enable you to validate your thoughts without acting upon your thoughts. In therapy, you may be asked to use your “wise mind” to make good choices.
Therapy may include development of mindfulness techniques. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are examples of techniques that you might learn in therapy. Through mindfulness, clients can develop the ability to accept distressing thoughts without self-criticism and can learn to tolerate self-destructive urges.
DBT may include “homework” for the client. Often, clients will be asked to use diary cards or write a journal to track progress. The cards or journal entries will note symptoms and successes. Success might include proper utilization of coping skills.
Who Can Benefit? What Benefits Might Be Realized?
The most common application of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) as a primary diagnosis. DBT has also been adapted for treatment of individuals with emotional dysregulation, with severe depression and associated suicidal thoughts.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy can hope to:
- Decrease frequency and severity of self-destructive behaviors.
- Increase motivation to change.
- Teach new “coping skills”.
- Emphasize the strengths of clients.
- Enhance the therapist’s motivation and ability to treat their clients effectively.
Many people will not experience a complete recovery. Problems and symptoms may linger, but at the same time many clients who undergo DBT will experience significant and long-lasting periods of remission. For many, the result will be living meaningful and productive lives.
Where Can I Learn More? How Can I Support My Loved One?
You can visit the web site of The Linehan Institute to learn more.
If you have a loved one in Dialectical Behavior Therapy, you can help support your loved one by providing nonjudgmental support and encouragement to continue with treatment.
Take The Next Step
DBT may be a treatment that works for you. Contact Dr. Weiss today to explore the treatment that can work for you. Just call, or fill in the contact form and click Send.