Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT Assumptions 

  1. People are doing the best that they can.
  2. People want to improve
  3. People must learn new behaviors both in therapy and in the context of their day-to-day life.
  4. People cannot fail in DBT
  5. People may not have caused all of their problems, but they have to solve them anyway.
  6. People need to do better, try harder and be more motivated to change.
  7. The lives of people who are suicidal, self sabatoging, and harming themselves are unbearable as they are currently being lived.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a specialized form of CBT that incorporates validation, acceptance, and change. The focus of the work is to help clients integrate a more dialectic approach to their lives and their views of themselves, by shifting from black and white rigid thinking patterns, judgments, and critical noise to a more balanced nonjudgmental space. We will work on finding ways to be more effective both interpersonally and in day to day life.  We will target building a life worth living rather than stopping or changing unpleasant realities outside of your control. Sounds great right?! DBT treatment is a voluntary and serious commitment to working hard both in and out of session. 

Skills are taught either in a weekly 90 minute skills group or in 45-60 minute individual skills training sessions depending on need and availability. 

DBT skills training includes four sets of behavioral skills:

  • Mindfulness: The practice of paying attention on purpose, nonjudgmentally, to the present moment; living fully in the moment, experiencing one’s emotions and senses fully, yet with perspective and dialectics.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Attending to your needs and improve relationships. Skills for how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others. Getting out of the people pleasing trap and learning how to identify and ask for what you want and need in ways that make others want to meet them.
  • Emotion Regulation: Learn how to change emotions you want to change. Identify the function of emotions and learn skills to regulate your emotions. Improve your ability to describe, change, and cope effectively, rather than letting emotions control you and run the show.
  • Distress Tolerance: How to tolerate pain and intense emotions in difficult situations. Manage crises without making things worse. Learning reality acceptance skills to help tolerate existing in uncertainty.

And hopefully, eventually, learning how to be loving and compassionate towards ourselves and not taking ourselves too seriously.  As one of our clients frequently reminds us:

"It's just life."