Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy teaches individuals how to live in the present, formulate healthy ways to cope with stress, identify and regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others. This can aid individuals who have trouble regulating their emotions or have a tendency to exhibit self-destructive behaviors. 

What are some techniques used in DBT?

  • Individual therapy --- clients' learned behavioral skills and patterns are adapted to their present, personal life challenges 
  • Core mindfulness --- used to look inward and pay attention to what is happening inside the self; uses the senses to tune in to what is happening around oneself 
    • Teaches people how to stay calm and avoid engaging in negative thought patterns and/or impulsive behavior that may have become automatic 
    • An example exercise is an observation skill, in which people pay attention to their breathing and take note of the sensation that comes with inhaling and exhaling
  • Distress tolerance --- accept oneself and the current situation
    • involves different techniques for handling crisis situations, including:
      • Distraction
      • Improving the moment
      • Self-soothing
      • Thinking of the pros and cons of not tolerating distress
    • An example exercise is "putting your body in charge," which is allowing oneself to get up, change location, and get your body moving, allowing the emotions one feels to follow their body 
  • Interpersonal effectiveness --- become more expressive of one's desires and needs in a relationship while maintaining a healthy and positive relationship and balance of communication
    • Learn to listen and communicate more effectively, deal with people who may disagree or challenge oneself, and respect oneself
    • An example exercise is the "GIVE" exercise:
      • Gentle --- don't attack or judge someone else
      • Interest --- demonstrate interest by modeling good listening skills
      • Validate --- acknowledge and find the reasoning behind someone else's thoughts and feelings
      • Easy --- attempt to have an easy-going attitude 
    • Emotion regulation --- navigate powerful feelings in a more effective way; allows an individual to eventually identify, name, and ultimately change one's emotions 
      • An example exercise is "Opposite Action," wherein if one is feeling an intense negative emotion, one can plan an activity that strives to bring about the opposite behavior

What are the stages of DBT?

  1. In the first stage, individuals express their most serious or self-destructive behaviors.
  2. In the second stage, treatment can move on to address problems that affect the quality of life of a client 
  3. In the third stage, interpersonal relationships and self-esteem can begin to be tackled 
  4. In the final stage, treatment plans expand to address helping individuals find ways to find the most meaning in their lives, including goal-setting, happiness, and relationship formation.

What are the benefits of DBT?

  • Therapist and client can work together to solve the friction that can seemingly exist between self-acceptance and change, which is often accomplished through validation.
  • Focus on changing thought patterns that are not effective or helpful 
  • Learn to communicate more effectively and gain teamwork skills (process of collaboration with therapist)

Here at Madrigal, we are committed to using dialectical behavior therapy to help you reach your best potential. 

*This information was adapted from Very Well Mind. Click here to learn more information.*