Dialectic behavior (DBT) therapy helps treat emotional disregulation, self-destructive behavior, suicide ideas, and mental health problems, and/or other behaviors. This is a structured and skill-based approach that helps people live "for life." This means that the DBT therapist is trained to teach patients the skills they need to achieve their goals and reduce the behavior that blocks these goals.
There are four core modules of DBT skills:
- Mindfulness: Increase awareness and focus in the present moment
- Emotional regulations: navigate up-and-down emotions
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Managing relationships
- Distress tolerance: Tolerating difficult emotions safely, reduce suffering through reality acceptance
These skills are the core pillars of DBT. Therapists use them during individual sessions, group sessions, and one-on-one coaching during crises. DBT for teens add a fifth DBT module called Walking the Middle Path. These skills teach teens how to find the balance between two extremes.
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History of DBT.
Marsha Linehan developed dialectic behavior therapy in the late 1980s. As a doctor, she was trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) but found that CBT did not work effectively for his patients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Many of them did not make progress in treatment. They displayed extreme emotions, engaged in self-harming behavior, and frequently attempted and completed suicide.
Linehan realized these patients needed a heavy dose of self-acceptance first before they began trying to change their behavior. This insight evolved into her theory of “radical acceptance.” She saw that people were more willing to change when immersed in an atmosphere of affirmation from the beginning of treatment. After establishing this atmosphere of acceptance and affirmation, she worked on helping them stop their unhealthy behaviors.