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Dialectical Behavior therapy is the modified version of standard cognitive-behavioral therapy, the goal of the therapy is to help people diminish negative thoughts and let positive thinking overcome the negative thinking patterns. Dialectical Behavioral therapy identifies and modifies the negative self-destructive behaviors (such as substance abuse) and unhealthy emotional regulations. 

Initially, the main objective of Dialectical Behavior therapy was to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and drug abuse; however, it has proven beneficial for many other mental health conditions.

Strategies of Dialectical Behavior Therapy: 

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy follows four compulsory modules:

  1. Mindfulness 
  2. Emotional regulation
  3. Distress tolerance
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness

1. Mindfulness:

“Live in the moment” is the correct explanation of Mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you focus on the positives of your presentation instead of the negatives of the past or future. Mindfulness enables you to observe your inner self and surroundings with keen consciousness and stay non-judgemental towards all aspects. 

Example of Practical implementation:

Dialectical Behavior therapy may urge the individuals to pay keen observation on breathing while they feel indulged in negative thoughts. Breathing naturally and trying to feel each inhale and every exhale help focus on the positive side of life. 

2. Emotional Regulation:

Acceptance is the main helping factor in emotional regulation. To help an individual with the problem, it is necessary to accept the problem first. After acceptance, one can positively regulate emotions. DBT helps control and regulate emotions through acceptance.

Example of Practical implementation:

If the patient is feeling a shallow mood swing and wants to cut off from the loved ones, one should do the opposite by making plans to see friends or family members. Emotional regulation will help you have positive emotional experiences by diminishing emotional vulnerability. 

3. Distress tolerance: 

Distress tolerance is when one faces intense emotion and does not react impulsively. Through DBT, therapists teach different techniques to handle intense emotions in harmless ways. A few of these are stated below:

  • Self-soothing
  • Stating pros and cons
  • Distraction
  • Improving the moment

Distress tolerance gives a positive outlook on the present situation and offers a practical and optimistic perspective.

Example of Practical implementation:

One can achieve distress tolerance by distracting the mind by watching a film or controlling your body instead of your mind once you can exercise or go on a long calm drive to distract your emotions. 

4. Interpersonal effectiveness:

Interpersonal effectiveness helps individuals to foster healthy relationships. Dialectical Behavior therapy develops effective listening and communication skills, which are necessary for healthy relationships. Interpersonal effectiveness allows one to communicate with others and explain their perspective honestly and humbly. 

Example of Practical implementation:

Therapists may urge the clients to smile during communication without interrupting anyone and understand and acknowledge the other person’s perspective.

Mental Health Conditions Proven to be Helped by DBT

Dialectical Behavior therapy can effectively treat the following disorders.

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Substance abuse
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating
  • Borderline personality traits
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depression disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Family and relationship issues
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Distinctive Nature of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior therapy brings two opposites together, i.e., acceptance of the current behavior and then replacing it slowly with a positive attitude. 

According to different psychological theories, our negative manners are mostly motivated by the underlying unconscious mind. First of all, therapists try to make you accept the current conduct because it is often observed that people who are reluctant to accept their negative conduct are more resistant to accept any change in it.

After giving a thorough insight into your negative behaviors, DBT therapists focus on the replacements, possibly including an entirely different activity or task integrated with this mindset. Consequently, the negative behaviors are going to fade away from your life one by one and then, positive activities or behaviors are taking their place.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Sessions

Different settings are available for the patients while participating in DBT. These include,

Individual Therapy Sessions:

In individual therapy sessions of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, an individual interacts with the therapist one-on-one. The therapist evaluates the condition and formulates a workout plan for the treatment individually. 

Group Therapy Sessions:

During group therapy sessions, people with similar problems are gathered to share their experiences and help each other adapt better practices to improve behavioral skills. These consultations with the therapist and other fellow patients help individuals learn new coping skills and stay motivated. 

Phone Therapy Sessions:

Phone coaching is done when a patient faces a difficult situation and calls the therapist to take guidance during the sessions. These phone sessions help the individual cope with the burdensome times with the safety advice of professionals.

Consultation Team:

These consultation teams help the therapist deal with severe and challenging disorders. These teams help them stay motivated and provide the best services possible to their patients.

The Multistage Approach of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

  • Most dangerous and destructive actions are cured during the first stage, such as self-harm, suicide attempts, and non-suicidal self-injury. 
  • In the second stage, one is taught to improve life quality. All the strategies mentioned above are introduced, such as Mindfulness, distress tolerance, etc., to enhance life skills. 
  • In the course of the third stage, self-assurance and self-esteem are focal points and working on for the betterment of relationships.
  • The fourth stage is focused on gaining happiness and joy and achieving their goals. 

How does Dialectical Behavior therapy help?

  • One can learn to accept to deal with the present critical problems and work for emotional betterment.
  • Analyze self-destructive habits and turn these negative actions into constructive ones.
  • Learn abilities to enhance better life skills like communication and listening. 
  • Stay optimistic about your traits and take advantage of these strengths.
  • You have a firm hold on your body and mind and immensely improved coping skills.

Effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy seems to be very effective for Borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and other above-mentioned mental health conditions.

  • A single-blind randomized clinical trial was conducted to explore the effectiveness of DBT on suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury patients. The study showed improvement in suicide ideation, suicide attempts, and positive attitude towards reasons for living. 
  • The effectiveness of the therapy was checked in public mental health settings in a controlled trial in Australia, and this showed a significant reduction in suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury cases. 

Take home:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy provides an optimal opportunity to modify negative behaviors into productive ones by using different psychological techniques such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation to mitigate the symptoms of a range of mental illnesses. 

To learn more about treatment options for substance abuse, call the Covenant Hills Treatment team at 844-268-8412.