Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy?

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is one type of cognitive-behavioural therapy. It was developed in late 1980 by Marsha M. Linehan and is used to treat individuals who have chronic suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation and urges to harm themselves. The condition is sometimes referred to as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

DBT is a highly structured therapeutic approach, It aims to develop acceptance and change-orientated strategies. For instance, in DBT a therapist accepts clients as they are, but at the same time acknowledges that they need to make changes in order to achieve their life-worth-living goals. These help highly suicidal individuals to find a synthesis that enables them to achieve a "life worth living". This concept is fundamental in DBT. Therapy aims to reduce self-destructiveness and therapy-interfering behaviours.

DBT consists of four main modules that teach clients a set of skills to help them manage their intensive emotions. One assumption is that the clients' life is unbearable because their emotions are dysregulated and they lack the self management strategies that can help them to bring their emotional intensity under control. The modules are: Distress Tolerance Skills (crisis skills used to reduce emotional intensity and keep the client safe), Mindfulness (to teach clients to stay in the present moment rather than engage with past experiences or future worries), Interpersonal Effectiveness (that teaches clients to use their communicative skills more effectively) and Emotional Regulation  (teaching the management of emotions in a more constructive and effective way).

DBT is well supported by much academic research. It has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing suicidal behaviour, self-harm, substance misuse, eating disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and chronic depression.

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