What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy (sometimes called “talking therapy”) for Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT is a cognitive behavioural therapy, meaning it is a therapy that focuses on the role of cognition (e.g., thoughts and beliefs) and behaviours (e.g., actions) in the development and the treatment of BPD. DBT includes some changes to the traditional cognitive behavioural elements of therapy in order to help specifically reduce the symptoms of Emotion Dysregulation and Borderline Personality Disorder.
Does Research Support Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?
DBT was the first psychotherapy shown to be effective in treating Emotion Dysregulation in controlled clinical trials (the most rigorous type of clinical research). While DBT is not the only therapy to have shown effectiveness in controlled trials, it has grown a large evidence base and is considered one of the best treatments for BPD in terms of documented success rates.
Is there a Theoretical Basis to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?
Our programs are based on Dr. Marsha Linehan’s theory that the core problem in BPD is emotion dysregulation, resulting from mixing biology (e.g., genetic and other biological risk factors) and an emotionally unstable childhood environment (e.g., where caregivers punish, trivialise or respond erratically to a child’s expression of emotion) together. The focus of DBT is on helping individuals learn and apply skills that will decrease emotion dysregulation and unhealthy attempts to cope with strong emotions.
What should I expect in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy?
Usually, DBT includes a combination of group skills training, individual psychotherapy and phone coaching, although there are exceptions. Individuals in DBT are asked to monitor their symptoms and use of learned skills daily, while their progress is tracked throughout therapy.
What type of skills that are covered in DBT skills training?
These are 4 type of skills covered in DBT Skills Training: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation Skills each of which are described briefly below.
Mindfulness Skills. These skills centre on learning to observe, describe and participate in all experiences (including thoughts, sensations, emotions and things happening externally in the environment) without judging these experiences as “good” or “bad.” These are considered “core” skills that are necessary in order to implement the other DBT skills successfully.
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills. The focus of this skill module is on learning to successfully assert your needs and to manage conflict in relationships.
Distress Tolerance Skills. The distress tolerance skills module promotes learning ways to accept and tolerate distress without doing anything that will make the distress worse in the long run (e.g., engaging in self-harm).
Emotion Regulation Skills. In this module, patients learn to identify and manage emotional reactions.