What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?
DBT was originally created by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the 1980s to help clients who struggle with engrained thinking patterns and behaviors, or Emotion Dysregulation. It is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that helps clients learn new coping skills when triggered by intense emotions. The skills help clients to be less sensitive to triggers, have less intense responses and have a quicker return to baseline.
Half of the coping skills are acceptance oriented, which assists clients in tolerating stressors and uncomfortable emotions without resorting to self-destructive behaviors. The other half of the coping skills are change oriented, focusing on how clients learn new behavior patterns to their triggers, intense emotions, and relationship conflicts. The emphasis of both acceptance AND change is why the therapy is called "dialectical", which means having two opposing views, but having a synthesis of the whole.
How Can I Get the Most Benefit Out of DBT?
Research has shown that DBT is most effective with three modes of treatment--individual therapy, skills group, and phone coaching. Unlike regular group psychotherapy, these skills groups focus on teaching clients four sets of important skills--mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. Also, clients are also encouraged to call their individual therapists for skills coaching prior to engaging in self-destructive behaviors. In the coaching call, the therapist will assist the client in providing alternatives to self-harm behaviors.
What is Taught in DBT?
The goal of DBT is to develop skills in:
Core Mindfulness: learning how to be present in the here and now and have more control over your mind
Interpersonal Effectiveness: learning how to communicate assertively in relationships while enhancing the relationship and maintaining self-respect
Emotion Regulation: learning how to understand your emotions and improve your ability to manage your emotions
Distress Tolerance: learning how to cope with distress without self-destructive behavior patterns
What Is Your Training In DBT?
DBT therapists have attended the DBT intensive training through Behavioral Tech, LLC. (For more information, go to the website: behavioraltech.com). I have attended the 5-day intensive training and am part of an Austin DBT team (DBT Associates of Austin), where we meet weekly for consultation and provide ongoing skills groups. In providing DBT individual therapy, I review diary cards with clients, provide phone coaching, and practice behavioral analysis.
DBT Associates of Austin Consultation Team