Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can Reduce Risky Behaviors and Improve Relationships

DBT is helpful for those who struggle to manage their emotions (e.g., rapid mood changes, intense and debilitating emotions, etc.).  The overarching goal is to obtain “a life worth living” by learning to tolerate distress and improve relationships.

Through DBT you will learn an array of skills to manage your emotions and the impulsive and almost automatic behaviors that often accompany strong emotions.

DBT has been shown to be effective in reducing suicidal behaviors, hospitalizations, and problems with anger, depression, and hopelessness. The key problem that DBT treats is emotion dysregulation, defined as a combination of extreme emotional vulnerability with difficulty in regulating emotions once they are aroused.

Through DBT you will learn an array of skills to manage your emotions and the impulsive and almost automatic behaviors that often accompany strong emotions.  You will work on a highly personalized plan to reduce the behaviors getting in the way of attaining your goals and to increase your use of skillful behaviors.

“Thus, evolution has shaped our brains so that we are hardwired to suffer psychologically: to compare, evaluate, and criticize ourselves, to focus on what we’re lacking, to rapidly become dissatisfied with what we have, and to imagine all sorts of frightening scenarios, most of which will never happen. No wonder humans find it hard to be happy!”Russ Harris, The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling And Start Living

Manage Emotions, Tolerate Stress & Avoid Risky Behavior

The Four Stages of DBT

Stage I:  DBT works to treat symptoms and build skills in four specific areas:       

  1. Emotion Regulation: Learning skills to deal with big emotions like anger, guilt, shame, sadness or anxiety. Learning

    how not to be overwhelmed by big emotions. How to experience more of the emotions you want. How to change emotions you don’t want. How to decrease the intensity of certain emotions. How to understand the purpose of emotions.

  2. Distress Tolerance: Learning skills to deal with difficult times or get through the night when things are really bad, without resorting to unwanted or risky behaviors.   Learning ways to accept life as it is, even when you don’t like certain parts of it. Being more accepting of yourself.   
  3.  Interpersonal Effectiveness: Learning skills to say no without feeling guilty. Learning how to feel OK about asking for what you want or need. Setting limits and saying “no” without feeling you’ll upset anyone. Dealing with relationship difficulties without ending the relationship. Saying the right thing in the right way at the right time.   
  4. Mindfulness: Learning how to live in the moment. Learning to control your mind without it controlling you. How to do one thing at a time. How to experience life with its ups and downs without running away from it. How to see the world the way it really is with your eyes open. How to participate in your own life, to be non-judgmental of yourself and others, and to get what you want in the most effective way.   

Stage II:  DBT addresses your inhibited emotional experiences.

Before moveing to Stage II, it is assumed that your behavior is now under control but you are suffering “in silence”. The goal of Stage II is to help you move from a state of quiet desperation to one of full emotional experiencing. This is the stage in which post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) would be treated.

Stage IIIDBT focuses on problems in living,

The goal of this stage is that the client has a life of ordinary happiness and unhappiness.

Stage IV:  DBT focuses on moving from incompleteness to completeness.

This stage is often begins once therapy is complete with individuals continuing to explore their life path.