Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was initially developed by Marsha Linehan in the early 1990’s to help clients that were suicidal or intentionally self-injuring. However, it has been shown to be effective with other impulse control disorders including substance abuse.
Who can benefit from DBT?
DBT has gained popularity in treating client’s who have challenges with:
- a tendency towards impulsivity and self-destructive behaviors
- an unstable sense of self, including chronic feelings of emptiness
- high emotional reactivity requiring a long time to calm down
- a tendency to see others and the world in black and white terms
- extremely sensitive and lashing out in anger over the slightest miscue
- unstable relationships, especially those involving intimacy
- a pronounced fear of being abandoned
- rapid mood changes with mixed anxiety and depression
How does DBT work?
DBT separates skills training from individual DBT therapy, requiring participants to attend weekly skills training groups in addition to being in ongoing and weekly DBT therapy. The purpose of the group is to learn the skills. The purpose of the individual is to generalize the skills into everyday life. As a unique and powerful way to further reinforce the skills taught in the skills groups, telephone coaching with your DBT therapist is available between sessions.
One of the key assumptions of DBT is that while we may not have caused all of our problems, we are the only ones capable and responsible for fixing them. This requires a continual willingness on the part of DBT participants to put in the hard work necessary for making the changes they want in order to create lives worth living. Because of the personal dedication, sacrifice, and effort required to successfully complete our DBT program, applicants are required to complete a DBT Orientation Intake before being eligible for admission into the DBT program.
Targets of DBT Treatment:
- Decreasing high-risk suicidal and self-harming behaviors
- Decreasing therapy interfering behaviors by either therapist or client
- Decreasing quality of life interfering behaviors
- Learning and mastering behavioral skills for mood-independent life choices
- Decreasing symptoms related to post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depression
- Enhancing and sustaining self-respect
- Additional goals are set by client to create a life worth living
Skills Modules Taught in DBT:
- Core Mindfulness – being present and non-judgmental in the moment
- Distress Tolerance – managing difficult feelings without acting impulsively
- Emotion Regulation – learning to skillfully use or change emotions
- Interpersonal Effectiveness –relating skillfully with others
DBT Assumptions about Participants:
- People in DBT are doing the best they can
- People in DBT want to improve
- People in DBT need to do better, work harder, and be motivated to change
- The lives of suicidal individuals are unbearable as they are currently being lived
- People in DBT must learn new behaviors in all areas of their lives
- People cannot fail in DBT
DBT Assumptions about Therapists:
- All therapists, no matter how well trained, are fallible
- We make every reasonable effort to conduct competent and effective therapy
- We obey standard ethical and professional guidelines
- We are available for weekly therapy sessions, phone consultations, and provide needed therapy back-up
- We respect the integrity and rights of the client
- We maintain confidentiality
We meet weekly to consult and support each other in order to be effective in the work we do.