What is DBT and How Does It Work?

DBT takes away the patient’s coping mechanisms
DBT stands for dialectical behavioral therapy, and it was first created by Marsha Lineham.

It was originally used in the treatment of individuals with borderline personality disorder, which has a characteristic of BPD patients practicing self-harm behaviors. Now, it has also been utilized in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. This may work in both illnesses because in a sense, substance abuse is a self-harm behavior.

How does DBT work?

DBT takes away the patient’s coping mechanisms, which in some cases would be self-harm, or in other people’s cases substances. Next, the therapist treats the exaggerated displays of emotions that DBT patients are prone to. Once the symptoms that could conflict with the therapy are treated, the patient and the therapist begin work on the symptoms that are causing the patient to suffering and disruption in their lives. For alcoholics in DBT, the therapy works by eliminating their emotional crutch, the self-destructive behavior, and forces them to work through their emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt and shame. Without the alcohol there to mask their emotions, they must learn to cope with them in a healthy way. DBT works by teaching the patients to manage their daily life stressors and emotional pains without the using their harmful habits.

Skills that DBT offers

Emotional Regulation: A symptom of many DBT patients is their explosive emotions. More often than not, a DBT patient enters therapy with the inability to control their emotions, especially in the emotionally provocative situations that occur in life. In learning the skill of emotional regulation, patients learn to reign in their emotions and have control over them.

Distress Tolerance: DBT patients use substances or other self-harm behaviors to change the way they feel while they are in distress. In practicing the tools learned through distress tolerance, they learn to have tolerate pain in upsetting situations, rather than hiding behind their self-destructive behaviors in an attempt to mask that pain.

Mindfulness: Often, DBT patients struggle with living in the past. This hinders that ability to live a happy life, because often DBT patients are trauma victims, and tormenting themselves by reliving those traumatic experiences daily causes great emotional distress. In learning to be mindful, the patient discovers the power of living here, now.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: DBT patients tend to struggle with interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal effectiveness is a skill that, when applied, can help the patient maintain their self-respect and be respectful of others while having interpersonal relationships that have healthy boundaries.

Those who are treated with DBT show significantly less suicidal behaviors and ideation after the therapy, than those not treated with DBT. In addition, loss of hope, anger explosions, and depression are significantly less. DBT is proving to be a successful therapy style that can help its patients live a valuable and happier life.

Distributed by Client Initiatives

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