What is DBT and what is it used for?

 Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that incorporates mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies into traditional CBT strategies. Developed in the 1980s, DBT was originally created to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder but has since been studied and implemented in other areas as well. It’s been shown to be effective in treating clients with eating disorders, depression, and more. Learn more about this treatment method below!

An Introduction to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy that was originally developed in order to treat people with borderline personality disorder. However, dialectical behaviour therapy has been shown to be effective in treating people with all kinds of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. People who complete a dialectical behaviour therapy program are more likely to succeed than people who don’t participate in any sort of treatment program at all.

The History of DBT

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) was developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan in response to a dearth of treatment options for severely suicidal individuals. The goal of DBT was to develop a form of therapy that not only reduced suicidal tendencies, but also resulted in overall behavioural improvement among its patients.  In order to accomplish these two goals, Linehan turned to an approach called Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In CBT, therapists work with their clients on understanding their thoughts and behaviours in order to make informed decisions about how they would like to change them. It’s an approach that has been shown time and again to be effective at treating a variety of mental health conditions.

The Theory Behind Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

In essence, DBT considers that your life experiences may have caused you to develop maladaptive ways of thinking about yourself, others, and situations. These maladaptive beliefs in turn influence your behaviour in certain situations. For example, an individual with low self-esteem might believe they are undesirable (the thought or cognition) which would then influence their behaviour towards other people – e.g., avoiding socializing or withdrawing from conversations (the behaviour). Often, these behaviours may be designed to protect against perceived rejection or abandonment; however, such behaviours result in greater feelings of isolation and rejection. The end result? A cyclical pattern of negative thinking and behaviour can get established over time whereby any attempt at change leads to further distress.

The Four Main Skills of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

There are four main skills of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Each skill in DBT will teach you how to regulate your emotions in a healthy way, but also how to cope with life’s stressful events. It’s important to remember that even though these skills might seem difficult at first, they can be learned through practice and time. It may take some time before you feel comfortable using them every day, but with practice they can become second nature.

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