Dialectical Behavior Therapy: How It Works and Who Needs It

Part of making sure we’re holding up mentally wise is checking in on our behaviors. One of many ways to do this is through dialectical behavior therapy.

Many of us come into a therapist’s office to check in on our mental state for the sake of our health just as we would go visit a doctor’s office for a physical check-up.

If you are curious about DBT and how it can help you achieve better mental health, read on.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

This treatment was based on the idea that people with certain mental health conditions have difficulty regulating their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive-behavioral or talking therapy which aims to help treat those undergoing intense stress or emotional pressure.

This can help those to become more aware of their emotional triggers and to respond to them more effectively. To help determine these triggers, DBT uses four behavioral skill modules:

  • Distress tolerance: This module helps check in on a person’s ability to tolerate pain or how they manage an emotional incident in times of great difficulty. 
  • Mindfulness: Through the use of mindfulness techniques, DBT helps patients focus on the present moment and observe their thoughts and feelings without judgment. 
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: This involves helping a patient understand how to set boundaries while maintaining their self-respect and their relationships with other people.
  • Emotion regulation: Therapists will use this module to study how well a patient understands their emotions to help control them better. This can include identifying and challenging negative beliefs and replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts.

The long-term goal of this treatment aims to help patients learn new skills and improve their ability to regulate their emotions and reduce their distress. It also includes a focus on developing new coping skills, such as problem-solving and effective communication.

In addition to individual therapy, DBT often includes group therapy sessions, where individuals can learn from and support each other as they work on their skills. It also consists of phone coaching, where individuals can call their therapist for support in between sessions.

Who needs Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Originally, dialectical behavior therapy was developed to treat those with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Later, it was found to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, this type of treatment is also for patients who may have multiple behavioral problems that need treatment. Some factors for someone who may need dialectical behavior therapy may include those who have:

Life-threatening tendencies

Those who have tendencies that could endanger their life should be considered for dialectical behavior therapy. This includes talks of suicide and behaviors that lead to a patient injuring themselves on purpose.

Behaviors that keep them from treatment

Patients who keep finding excuses to miss appointments should also be considered for DBT as it allows a therapist to understand the reasons behind their avoidance.  

Self-sabotaging habits

Patients who find themselves sabotaging their relationships or any other factor of their lives may have behavior that DBT techniques can help manage.

The need to acquire new behavioral skills

DBT isn’t just for those who have issues to resolve, but also for those who want to learn techniques to resolve potential behavioral problems, they may have in the future. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition, consider talking to a therapist about the possibility of DBT.

Why not start with us here at Mid Cities Psychiatry? Schedule an appointment today!

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