Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which focuses on self-acceptance and changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviour. DBT was initially designed for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) but has now expanded to treat a wide range of mental illnesses
When is DBT used?
- Bipolar Disorder (mood disorder)
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Suicide attempt/ideation
- Major Depression Disorder
- Eating Disorders
Theory behind DBT:
DBT uses validation and dialectical thinking to change self-destructive thoughts and behaviours of those trying to cope with their distress. In DBT, we learn to understand that our thoughts and the way we act are valid and we should accept ourselves even in this aspect. Dialectical thinking means to use two opposing forces, to accept yet change our thoughts and behaviour.
Techniques used in DBT:
✽ Group therapy
Learning behavioural skills through role playing
✽ Individual therapy
One on one with therapy between the client and the therapist
✽ Phone calls
Occasion discussions on tips for coping
Listing emotions felt throughout the day, recording coping methods used
Skills taught in DBT
✽ Core Mindfulness
Living in the present and focusing on the now. This helps slow down thoughts when overwhelmed and face situations without judgement.
✽ Distress tolerance
Acknowledging our inability to control situations. Switching mindset from “this isn’t fair!” to “this happened beyond my control, so let me see what i can do about it”. This shift in mindset improves how we deal with negative emotions and avoids self-destructive behaviours.
✽ Interpersonal effectiveness
We learn to be assertive, yet sensitive to those around us and let them know what we need clearly (e.g. time together, music).
✽ Emotion regulation
We can better identify and anticipate our intense emotions and explore ways to shape our behaviour and manage our emotions.
Small changes you can make today:
- Instead of self-harm, try placing ice above the intended area to feel the similar numbing feeling, or talking to someone you are close to
- Instead of substance abuse, try exercising or drinking tea to relax
- Try meditation and resting more when you feel agitated
Benefits of DBT
Overall, DBT begins the very difficult process of acceptance rather than constantly berating yourself for who you are. With DBT, we learn to accept what we cannot change and replace negative thoughts and behaviours to healthier ones. Although it is a big time commitment and not an easy fix, DBT has been proven to help people struggling with mental illness find healthier and more positive mindset.
Watch the video attached to learn more!
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