DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy that combines principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness and other strategies to help individuals manage difficult emotions and behaviors. DBT was originally developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s as a treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD), but has since been found to be effective for a range of mental health conditions.
The term “dialectical” refers to the balance between opposing forces, which is a central concept in DBT. The therapy aims to help individuals find a balance between accepting their emotions and behaviors while also working to change them. This involves teaching individuals skills to improve emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and mindfulness.
DBT is typically delivered in a structured format, consisting of both individual therapy sessions and skills training groups. In individual therapy, the therapist works with the client to address specific problematic behaviors or situations, while also helping the client develop coping strategies and skills to manage emotions more effectively. Skills training groups involve a small group of individuals learning and practicing the four main skill sets of DBT.
The four skill sets of DBT are:
- Mindfulness: A focus on being present in the moment, observing and accepting thoughts and emotions without judgment.
- Emotion Regulation: Learning strategies to identify, understand, and manage emotions, such as recognizing emotional triggers and developing coping mechanisms.
- Distress Tolerance: Building skills to tolerate emotional distress without resorting to negative behaviors, such as self-harm or substance use.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Developing effective communication and relationship-building skills, such as learning to say no, setting boundaries, and resolving conflicts.
DBT has been found to be effective for a range of mental health conditions, including BPD, substance use disorders, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has also been adapted for use with children and adolescents.
In summary, DBT is a structured form of psychotherapy that combines principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy with mindfulness and other strategies to help individuals manage difficult emotions and behaviors. The therapy aims to help individuals find a balance between accepting their emotions and behaviors while also working to change them. DBT has been found to be effective for a range of mental health conditions and is typically delivered in a combination of individual therapy and skills training groups.