Three Ways DBT Can Help You Overcome Mental Health Illnesses

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can be an effective way to treat many mental health illnesses and to lead happier, healthier lives. DBT uses mindfulness and other techniques to help you manage your emotions and behaviors while alleviating your suffering and improving your relationship with the world around you. If you’re interested in learning more about how DBT can help you overcome mental health illnesses, check out these three ways DBT can help you overcome mental health illnesses.

1) Mindfulness

Dialectical behavior therapy encourages patients to live in a moment-by-moment manner. This means observing one’s internal sensations and feelings, as well as external stimuli, without judgment. For example, rather than saying I feel anxious right now or This is an uncomfortable situation, a person would say something like: My heart rate has increased slightly. I can feel my heart beating faster. My palms are getting sweaty. My mouth feels dryer than normal, and I can tell that my stomach is tense. By identifying these physical manifestations of emotional states—without judgment—patients start to understand how their mental health plays into their physical bodies more closely. As they become more aware of how certain thoughts and emotions lead to specific reactions, they begin to recognize unhealthy patterns and develop healthy coping strategies.

2) Validation

In traditional therapy, validation is called reflective listening and means you restate what your loved one just said to make sure they know you heard them. In DBT, validation is a mindset—it’s about paying attention to and believing in what someone says, no matter how irrational or over-the-top it might seem. To validate yourself or others using mindfulness skills, ask yourself: What is going on for me right now? rather than reacting out of habit. For example, instead of snapping at someone when they interrupt you during a phone call with their own problem (which most people do), consider that maybe they need to vent about something that’s been bugging them all day long. So instead of brushing them off, say: I can tell you’re really frustrated by X! I wish I had some answers for you! Validation creates safety and security for those struggling to cope with mental health illnesses. It works as a way of saying: Let’s meet each other where we are. –DBT expert Marsha Linehan

3) Dealing With Emotions

One of Dialectical Behavior Therapy’s main goals is to help people become aware of and control their emotional states. Too often, we get caught up in our emotions and feel powerless to alter them. But when you’re practicing DBT, you learn how to notice when your emotions are changing, how they make you feel, and what triggers them. Once you’ve identified these factors, you can begin making changes in your environment or lifestyle that can help you avoid or counteract extreme mood swings. For example, if stress tends to make it hard for you to relax at night, try setting aside time for a bath or reading before bed instead of flipping on Netflix after dinner.