Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an empirically supported treatment for individuals with emotion regulation problems such as anger, frustration, sadness, depression, and anxiety. Often individuals attempt to control their emotions by trying not to feel what they are feeling.. This is rarely effective though it may offer some temporary relief. DBT skills provide strategies for getting through crisis without making things worse.

Goals of DBT skills training include:

  1. Understand your emotions.
  2. Decrease the frequency of unwanted emotions.
  3. Decrease vulnerability to negative emotions while increasing resilience and positive emotions.
  4. Decrease emotional suffering.
  5. Manage extreme emotions so that you don’t make things worse.
  6. Change emotional reactions so that the response is appropriate to the situation.
  7. Learn problem-solving skills.
  8. Learn how to accept situations that cannot be changed.

DBT was developed by Marsha M. Linehan, a psychology researcher at the University of Washington. It combines cognitive behavioral  therapy techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practices.

Linehan recognized that patients required a climate of unconditinoal acceptance in order to develop a successful therapeutic alliance. Accordingly, the therapist aims to accept and validate the client’s feelings at any given time, while, nonetheless, informing the client that some feelings and behaviors are maladaptive, and showing them better alternatives.