About DBT

Is DBT right for you? Learn more and decide

What Is DBT?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a structured, manualized treatment developed to treat individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), as well as individuals with chronic mood and behavioral issues. Through a supportive, validating, and goal-oriented therapeutic environment, behavioral skills are developed to improve impulse control, emotional regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and overall functioning, and replace old harmful ways of thinking and behaving with new, healthier ones. The treatment has been shown through extensive research to help reduce suicide attempts, self-harming behavior, and hospitalizations while increasing a client's quality of life. Unlike many past treatments for BPD and chronic mood and behavioral issues, it is based on a recovery model, with the clear goal of helping clients create a "Life Worth Living" and ultimately no longer needing intensive treatment.

Goals Of DBT

  • To decrease behaviors that interfere with treatment (i.e., lack of compliance, passivity)
  • To decrease suicidal, non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors and other problematic behaviors such as binging/purging, etc.
  • Increase ability to regulate emotions and behavior
  • To teach the ability to "think down the middle," or to see both sides of an issue

Important Concepts in DBT

Dialectics is the concept that reminds us that:

  1. The universe is filled with opposing sides and opposing forces. In other words, things that seem or actually are opposite can both be true and that there is always more than one way to see and solve a problem.
  2. Everything and every person is connected in some way.
  3. Things and people are constantly changing. "We can never step in the same river twice" because our understanding of the world and our experiences are constantly evolving.
  4. Change is transactional. We impact the environment AND the environment impacts us. As a result, assigning blame and fault is pointless.

Behaviorism is the concept that reminds us that human and animal behavior can be explained as resulting from patterns of reinforcement and consequences. While thoughts and feelings can provide information, they do not on their own explain why behaviors stay around, increase, or decrease.

Mindfulness is intentionally living in the present moment while letting go of judgments and not becoming overly attached to the present moment.

Biosocial theory of BPD
The biosocial theory suggests that biological vulnerabilities AND an invalidating/ineffective environment transact to create the difficulties that exist in BPD.

It is not about "fault." It is about "fit."

Skills Deficit Model
The skills deficit model suggests that the difficulties of individuals who come to DBT result from not having learned the skills necessary to modulate/tolerate emotions and act effectively even when emotions are extreme. The lack of learning comes from the transaction between the biological vulnerabilities and the invalidating/ineffective social environment.

Who Can Benefit From DBT?
DBT can help individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is also beneficial for clients who have chronic difficulties with regulating their emotions, managing and keeping healthy interpersonal relationships, tolerating distress, and engaging in impulsive behaviors.

Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy right for you?

  • Do you have frequent and intense shifts in mood?
  • Do you have frequent problems managing anger?
  • Do your relationships have lots of ups and downs?
  • Do you have frequent thoughts that you would be better off dead?
  • Do you have a history of multiple suicide attempts?
  • Do you engage in frequent impulsive or self-destructive behaviors (cutting, substance abuse, binges and/or purging, school truancy)?
  • Do you at times have intense feelings of emptiness?
  • Do you ever dissociate or fear that others are purposely out to harm you?
  • Has treatment never seemed to work for you?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions our treatment program could be of help.

"Just like the lotus we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of the darkness and radiate into the world." - Anonymous

Frequently-Asked Questions

If you would like to learn more about DBT, you may want to click here to go to one of our Frequently-Asked Questions pages that may give you additional insights on the topic. Click here to go to our Adult DBT FAQ or click here to go to our Adolescent DBT FAQ.

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