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What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical behavioral therapy is effective in treating a variety of conditions. Learn more about DBT and the resources available.

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What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a form of talk therapy that uses mindfulness principles, acceptance, and emotional regulation to help treat clients. DBT is commonly used to treat those who struggle with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or those who struggle with suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

However, it can also be used to treat many other conditions including substance abuse, behavioral disorders, and mental health issues.1

When Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Used?

Dialectical behavior therapy is usually used for clients who are exhibiting self-harm or other self-destructive behaviors. Mindfulness practices that are used in dialectical behavior therapy treatment are particularly effective for helping calm the mind while managing and treating self-destructive behavior.2

A dialectical behavior therapy program typically involves providing support, creating more positive thought patterns, and building life skills to help clients manage their emotions and behavior on their own.3

Support-Oriented Identity Building

Support-oriented identity building during dialectical behavior therapy treatment helps provide clients with support as they discover their identity and personal values. Dialectical therapy techniques are able to help clients with self-discovery so they can learn more about how their behaviors affect their daily lives and how they can create more positive behaviors to uphold their personal values.

Cognitive-Based Positive Thinking

Dialectical therapy helps clients learn about how their thoughts affect their actions. These skills learned during sessions can help create more positive thought patterns during everyday life.

Collaborative Skill Building

During DBT treatment, collaborative skill-building activities will be used to build life skills that lead to positive behavior patterns. While working with a dialectical behavior therapist, you and your therapist may collaborate on activities during therapy sessions to help build life skills.

DBT group therapy is also an option that would work on collaborative skill building. DBT group activities involve collaborating with group members towards a common goal.

Types of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

There are different types of dialectical behavior therapy interventions that may be used. Depending on individual needs, certain types of DBT may be more effective than others. In certain cases, some people start with individual therapy and then gravitate more towards group treatment, whereas others solely stay in individual treatment. It fully depends on what the client needs and how their therapist thinks they can gain the most help.

Individual Treatment

Individual treatment involves working one on one with a dialectical behavior therapist. Individual treatment is similar to traditional talk therapy, where your therapist will ask you questions and guide the conversation to help gain understanding about your condition and actions that can be taken to help.

    Skills Group Treatment

    Skills group treatment involves partaking in DBT group activities that help build life skills. DBT group therapy can be beneficial for creating a sense of community and belonging for clients. It can allow group members to share, learn from one another, and collaborate as they work towards a common goal.

    What Skills Does DBT Help Develop?

    Dialectical behavior therapy techniques used during sessions can help clients build a number of valuable life skills. These will be detailed below.4

    Core Mindfulness

    One of the main dialectical behavior therapy skills learned during treatment is core mindfulness. DBT uses mindfulness techniques to teach acceptance and help calm the mind. Mindfulness techniques can be particularly effective during DBT therapy for anxiety.

    Distress Tolerance

    Distress tolerance skills learned during DBT help build coping mechanisms for stressful situations that can occur in everyday life. Distress tolerance skills can be particularly useful during dialectical behavior therapy for those who have experienced different levels of trauma, along with how to cope with future circumstances.

    Interpersonal Effectiveness

    The dialectical model also helps teach effective interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills learned during DBT treatment can help create better relationships with family, friends, and co-workers that lead to a better overall feeling of well-being.

    Emotion Regulation

    DBT also helps with emotional regulation. Emotional regulation skills learned during DBT help to recognize emotions, avoid giving in to emotional urges, and create a more positive emotional well-being.

    What Else Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Can Help With

    Dialectical behavior therapy benefits can help treat a number of different conditions. Common conditions that DBT can treat include:

    • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
    • Eating disorders 
    • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
    • Substance use disorder

    Benefits of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

    DBT has many benefits that clients will receive from treatment sessions as well. Common dialectical behavior therapy benefits include:

    • Building life skills
    • Improved quality of life
    • Improved relationships
    • Increased likelihood of following through on treatment
    • Reduced anger
    • Reducing suicidal thoughts or actions

    Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Treatment Target

    DBT treatment typically targets certain behaviors to help effectively treat clients.

    Psychotherapy for Mental Health

    Life-Threatening Behaviors

    DBT is effective for treating self-destructive or life-threatening behaviors, such as in those who struggle with suicidal thoughts or self-harm. DBT can help clients find the root cause of their self-destructive actions and provide treatment that leads to a better overall feeling of well-being.

    Therapy-Interfering Behaviors

    Some people who are going through therapy may have self-destructive behaviors that impede their recovery. For certain individuals, they may be recommended for this reason. DBT therapists are trained to help treat self-destructive behavior and actions which will lead to higher success rates during therapeutic treatment.

    Quality of Life Behaviors

    DBT will also teach quality of life behaviors. During therapeutic treatment, it’s important to treat the whole person and create positive behaviors throughout their daily life. Your therapist will work with you to find positive activities and create positive behavioral patterns in everyday life that lead to success.

    Skills Acquisition

    DBT not only treats mental distress but will also help teach life skills that can benefit someone in many ways. Skills learned during DBT treatment can help someone improve their relationships, improve their work life, and improve overall health and well-being. Learning life skills helps create a well-rounded positive environment in your daily life that leads to increased levels of happiness and success.

    Get Dialectical Behavioral Therapy at Great Oaks Recovery Center

    If you are looking for dialectical behavioral therapy treatment, Great Oaks can help. Great Oaks Recovery Center is a treatment center that specializes in addiction and mental health treatment. DBT therapists at Great Oaks are certified for treating a number of different conditions. Contact us today for more information about how we can help you.



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    Questions About Treatment?

    Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.