What Is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)? Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is an approach that was developed in the 1980’s by Dr Marsha Linehan.

What are the four skill sets?

Co-occurring Disorders -addictions and Eating Disorders

Depression and Other Mental Health Disorders.Emotions serve important functions in our lives.

Is DBT Effective?Dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment.

What Is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)?

DBT is an intensive, cutting edge and effective therapeutic approach. It has proven to be useful for a wide array of different people, with different issues. Including personality disorders, eating disorders, addictions, and mental health difficulties.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a therapeutic approach that was developed in the 1980’s by Dr Marsha Linehan. DBT was originally used for the treatment of people who were experiencing suicidal thoughts and Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT is delivered though skills training manual, patient workbooks, and working with clinicians and counsellors. DBT has now proven to be successful in the treatment of many people with a wide range of different emotional regulation issues.

The term ‘dialectical’ refers to the idea of finding balance between two differing perspectives that exist simultaneously, like acceptance and change. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy will help you to accept your uncomfortable thoughts, behaviors, and feelings rather than fighting against them or denying them – once a thought, behaviour, or feeling, has been acknowledged and accepted it becomes easier to change.

DBT enables you to learn effective emotional and cognitive skills (acquisition), and apply those skills to your life (generalization). Generally, DBT tackles difficult and distressing emotions and improves your capacity for emotional regulation, and emotional expression.

The skills you learn through DBT will last a lifetime and can still be applied when you feeling fine to improve life, not just in a crisis.

What are the Four Skill Sets?

DBT can be effective for almost anyone. There are four skill sets that DBT focuses on developing, these are:

  1. Core Mindfulness Skills – teach you to experience the present moment with an attitude of acceptance and non-judgement, rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can be described as a non-judgmental way of paying attention to your experience of the present moment. During mindfulness practice when your mind wanders to the future or past, or when powerful emotions arise, mindfulness refocuses our attention on the present moment. Mindfulness can be described as a kind of microscope, a detailed look into something that was hidden in plain sight. Often people report a reduction in the experience of anxiety and shame during mindfulness practice, sometimes people experience a sense of peace and release during meditation.
  2. Distress Tolerance Skills – help you to practice healthy and effective ways of dealing with stress and intense negative feelings. Distress Tolerance skills are used when it is difficult or impossible to change a situation. Difficult emotions are normal part of life, we all feel grief when someone we love dies, or disappointment when we don’t get a job that we really wanted. Anger too is a normal response to seeing happen things that seem wrong or unjust. Some of us seem to experience intense distress that makes it very difficult to manage ourselves and our lives without developing some unhelpful coping strategies.
  3. Emotion Regulation Skills – help youto process and tolerate your emotions when you can’t change them or reduce their intensity. Emotions, thoughts and behaviours are all linked, using DBT skills for the emotional part of the cycle will help improve all aspects of the situation. DBT’s emotion regulation skills tools include checking the facts, acting opposite to the action urge of the emotion, and problem solving.
  4. Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills– teach you to nurture your relationships through building communication and assertiveness skills. Building on interpersonal skills can help with building a more supportive and fulfilling social network.

Co-occurring addictions and Eating Disorders.

It is very much possible to treat addiction and eating disorders as a symptom of emotional dysregulation. Many people fall into addiction through using substances/behaviours as a way of coping with intense, painful feelings, this is sometimes known as self-medicating.

DBT training can help to manage intense feelings and develop healthy and effective strategies for managing emotions without the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms

Depression and Other Mental Health Disorders.

Negative emotions such as fear and sadness, can be effective and useful. They can motivate us to protect ourselves or prompt others to help us when they see that we are hurt or struggling. If you experience emotions like fear at a disproportionate level though it be difficult to cope and you may find yourself experiencing chronic anxiety and depression.

Is DBT Effective?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is widely recommended as a treatment for personality disorder and suicidal ideation. DBT significantly decreases suicide-related outcomes (e.g., suicide attempts, non-suicidal self-injury, and suicidal ideation), psychiatric hospitalization, use of emergency services, treatment discontinuation, depression, and substance use; additionally, it allows for growth, healing, and flourishing.

anxiety. Because it is such a rigorous approach this type of therapy does require a large commitment form the client as well as the therapist.

As with any therapeutic approach the length of time it takes to see effects in your life will vary to person to person, and will depend on how able you are to commit to the process. The more willing you are to engage with the process, do the recommended ‘homework’ and practice DBT skills, the quicker, usually, you will start to see and feel positive effects.