What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

February 28, 2017

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) teaches skills to reduce the size of emotional waves and help you stay grounded when emotions are overwhelming. You will learn how to accept yourself as you are at the moment and simultaneously acknowledge that there is a need for change.

 

Dialectical behavior starts with learning distress tolerance skills which are the "time-out" tools.  It will give you temporary relief from extreme emotions, and give you time to cool off so that you can access your better judgment.  Next, you will learn mindfulness which is the preventative medicine in DBT.  It will reduce your vulnerability to high emotions because mindfulness skills consists of daily exercises that clean out your mind.  It is similar to tidying your house a little bit every day, so that there is not a paralyzing mess waiting for you on the weekends.  Following mindfulness skills are the emotion regulation skills.  Emotion regulation will teach you how to ride out all the waves of emotions.  You will learn about the function of emotions, the quality of each emotion, and become comfortable with them.  Finally, there are the interpersonal skills.  Most of our emotions come from getting our needs met or not met in relationships.   We cannot avoid people, and we need relationships to live full, satisfying lives.  You will learn how to communicate your needs and find ways to get your needs met.  You will also learn how to meet other people's needs and be a good friend, co-worker, and family member.  DBT is a wrap-around therapy model that addresses the dilemmas in life.

 

DBT may be right for you if you find yourself reacting to situations that others do not, people call you "sensitive," or people mention they walk on eggshells around you.    

 

 

 

 

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Natalie A. Ma, PhD

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