Dialectical behavioral therapy, called DBT, was founded by Marsha Linehan in 1993. It has rapidly grown in popularity over recent years.
What is DBT?
DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that incorporates ideas from Eastern Buddhist philosophy, such as meditation and mindfulness techniques. DBT focuses on 4 key skills:
- Mindfulness: A philosophy that teaches open, non-judgmental acceptance of life in the present moment.
- Distress tolerance: Teaching people to better manage stressful situations and tolerate the hardships that life throws their way.
- Emotion regulation: Using the principles of cognitive therapy to help people better manage their moods and emotions.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Promoting a better understanding of others and teaching skills that will make people more effective in their interpersonal relationships.
Methods & Techniques used in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Therapists who practice DBT believe that…
- Every person is simply doing the best they can to manage their circumstances with the resources and skills available to them, and that better skills will help them be more effective in life.
- Though patients might not have caused all their problems, they are ultimately responsible for solving them.
The DBT therapist will…
- Teach patients how to be less judgmental towards themselves and others.
- Work on Mindfulness techniques that train a person’s focus on the here and now, so that their mind spends less time ruminating about the past or future.
- Promote better understanding of and compassion towards others.
- Teach patients techniques for managing their stress, such as focused breathing exercises or meditation.
- Talk about better ways of interpreting the world and avoiding the type of mistaken beliefs and assumptions that trap patients in patterns of despair.
The effects of DBT: Does Dialectical Behavioral Therapy work?
Because DBT is a combination of two scientifically established therapeutic practices, (cognitive therapy has a long and proven track record, and the benefits of mindfulness training can be measured physiologically and are also robust), this is a type of therapy we can recommend for children and adults of all ages. Although the benefits received will vary depending on the uniqueness of the patient and the skills of the therapist, it’s a form of psychotherapy that offers a lot of upside with a lower risk of harm.