Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is an evidence-based type of combined mindfulness and cognitive therapy designed to target and treat those who experience relationship conflicts, high-risk behaviors, and intense emotions. DBT skills aim to find a healthy balance in life.
Dialectics means that two opposite ideas can be true at the same time. When considered together, these opposing ideas create a new truth and a new way of viewing a situation. Dialectics allows us to:
- Hold opposing ideas at the same time
- Move away from black-and-white, either-or thinking
- Reduce intense levels of emotion and unlock conflict
The fundamental dialectic in DBT is ACCEPTANCE vs. CHANGE. Multiple Points of View, Change is Constant, Both/And Thinking
DBT was created by psychologist Marsha Linehan in the 1970s. It is based on the concept that our thoughts, emotions, and behavior are intertwined. Through DBT, individuals can learn skills that will help them decrease emotional reactivity, increase distress tolerance and
lead more productive and fulfilling lives.
HOW IT WORKS
Individual counseling with a DBT informed therapist and group therapy, learning the DBT skills
- Effective treatment for people who have difficulty controlling their emotions.
- Aims to replace problem behaviors with skillful behaviors.
- Helps experience a range of emotions without necessarily acting on those emotions.
- Helps individuals navigate relationships in their environment (family/job/school/peers).
- Supports individuals getting through difficult life transitions
Studies have shown DBT to be effective with a variety of concerns including self-harm, substance misuse, depression, anxiety, disordered eating, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.
DBT ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT CLIENTS
- Clients are doing the best they can
- Clients want to feel better, they want to improve
- Clients need to learn new behaviors and are capable of learning new skills to change behaviors
- Therapists cannot save their clients, clients must do the work
WHAT IS A DBT SKILLS GROUP?
DBT helps people to develop skills in four areas: Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Distress Tolerance. A DBT Skills Group is designed to teach these skills and offer members support as they integrate these skills into their daily life. Each week the group will learn new skills in one of these areas. Homework will be given to encourage members to practice these skills throughout the week. At the beginning of each session, group members will have an opportunity to share and discuss weekly successes and challenges before new skills are introduced.
- Mindfulness: The ability to focus your attention on the present moment and embrace reality. Mindfulness increases your attention span and allows you to control your thoughts, so your thoughts do not control you. Mindfulness techniques will teach you how to experience life “as it is.” The result is an increase in happiness and a decrease in suffering.
- Emotion Regulation: The ability to regulate fluctuating emotions. Emotional regulation skills teach us how to accept our moods/emotions and how to manage them more effectively. The result is an increase in emotional control and a decrease
in intense mood swings and negative mood-dependent behaviors.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Building and maintaining positive relationships. Interpersonal effectiveness skills teach you how to build lasting relationships, based on mutual understanding and respect. They also empower you to better negotiate for what you want and need in your personal and professional life.
- Distress Tolerance: Tolerating distress, at the moment, in a healthy way. Distress tolerance skills teach you how to manage intense emotions in times of extreme stress. These techniques promote a healthy stress response and serve to decrease impulsivity and negative behaviors used to escape the emotional experience.
Our office has therapists who have been trained in using the DBT protocol. Their training provided these clinicians with the foundation and skills to integrate DBT into their counseling practice. Upon completing the training, these clinicians are considered “DBT informed.”
- Eileen Henry
- Sherine Chambers
- Anne (Stepping Stones Therapist)
- Laura (Stepping Stones Therapist)
- Kitten (Stepping Stones Therapist)
What exactly is DBT?
Are you raising a child who is often overwhelmed by intense emotions or big feelings? Do these turn into outbursts, anxiety attacks or conflict at home or at school? Just like adults, children and adolescents have both good days and bad days.
DBT is an evidence-based treatment. DBT family is designed for children & caregivers who struggle to regulate their emotions and behaviors more effectively. At times, traditional therapy or hospitalization has not been effective. Family DBT can provide caregivers and children the support they are needing but modified to meet the developmental needs of this age group. Family DBT provides the opportunity to see different perspectives which can build their relationships.
Open for kids 8+, for families and children struggling with severe emotional dysregulation, high intensity of emotions, and/or self-harm. Families can expect to have weekly therapy, weekly skills group, access to phone coaching, weekly homework to practice skills, and therapists participate in a consultation team. It’s helpful for children and adolescents who have high reactivity, high intensity and slow return to baseline of emotions.
DBT with children helps the family problem-solve more effectively, understand their emotions and urges, increase tolerance to stressors, increase their mindfulness throughout the day and regulate their emotions & communicate to those around them.
4 areas are covered:
- Mindfulness – being aware of thoughts & feelings
- Distress tolerance – skills to get through difficult situations, accept reality, and control emotions
- Emotional regulation – reduce the intensity of emotions, increasing positive emotions
- interpersonal effectiveness – maintaining healthy relationships
Creating rockstar parents:
- Not adding fuel to the fire by avoiding retaliation, verbal aggression or physical aggression
- Proactive in communication, rather than avoiding
- Validating how the child feels or their level of distress
- Using skills taught
- Create a healthy environment