What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment. It aims to treat people who see little or no improvement with other therapy models. This treatment focuses on problem-solving and acceptance-based strategies. It operates within a framework of dialectical methods. The term dialectical refers to the processes that bring opposite concepts together such as change and acceptance.

WHAT IS DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOR THERAPY?
Currently, DBT is used to treat people with chronic or severe mental health issues. Issues DBT treats include self-harm, eating and food issues, addiction, posttraumatic stress, as well as borderline personality. DBT was originally designed to treat people who had chronic suicidal thoughts as a symptom of borderline personality.

DBT can be used in a variety of mental health settings. It incorporates the following five components:

  • Capability enhancement. DBT provides opportunities for the development of existing skills. In treatment, four basic skill sets are taught. These are emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

  • Generalization. DBT therapists use various techniques to encourage the transfer of learned skills across all settings. People in therapy may learn to apply what they have learned at home, at school, at work, and in the community. For example, a therapist might ask the person in treatment to talk with a partner about a conflict. The person may use emotion regulation skills before and after the discussion.

  • Motivational enhancement. DBT uses individualized behavioral treatment plans to reduce problematic behaviors that might negatively affect the quality of life. For example, therapists might use self-monitoring tracking sheets so sessions can be adapted to address the most severe issues first.

  • Capability and motivational enhancement of therapists. Because DBT is often provided to people who experience chronic, severe, and intense mental health issues, therapists receive a great deal of supervision and support to prevent things like vicarious traumatization or burnout. For example, treatment-team meetings are held frequently to give therapists a space to provide and receive support, training, and clinical guidance.

  • Structuring of the environment. A goal of therapy is often to ensure positive, adaptive behaviors are reinforced across all environmental settings. For example, if someone participates in multiple treatment programs within one agency, the therapist might make sure each program was set up to reinforce all the positive skills and behaviors learned.

Source: Good Therapy