What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a clinical term for a method of psychotherapy. Yet, the practice is unique in the sense that the methodology is actually a more holistic approach to treatment. It uses a strong sense of mindfulness (and many zen concepts).

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy also advocates acceptance, verses others that work on changing aspects of yourself. This mindset tends to lean toward the “you’re just fine the way you are” line of thinking. 

The history of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (“DBT”) goes back to the 1970’s when Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, began research on suicidal behaviors and borderline personality. This is not to say that the treatment doesn’t have results far wider than those particular conditions, however, this is where it began.

Dr. Linehan conducted extensive research and discovered that for certain people, especially those who are vulnerable in certain emotional situations, advocating change can be discouraging. It can cause individuals to “shut down” and try to change the subject instead of working through their issues. Acceptance, on the other hand, showed valuable improvement.

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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy uses Zen and Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness and the Four Parts of DBT

In DBT, there are four aspects that make up the model. They include: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotional Regulation. Using practices of Zen Buddhism, DBT asks the individual to practice a mindset of “here and now.” Using the four modules together, a therapist will help their client by helping them be able to ask for what they need, say no when necessary and improve boundary setting as well as identifying and processing distress emotions. Together, the methodology helps put life coping skills in place and truly helps the individual “weather life’s storms” and get through them with minimal damage to their relationships or careers by unregulated emotional outbursts or behavior.


What Does Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Look Like in Practice?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a very supportive way of practicing psychotherapy. It typically involves some combination of individual sessions, optional group sessions, mindfulness “homework” and journaling. As far as frequency, I recommend weekly sessions with a therapist. During each session, you will typically go over the past week including any situations that were tension or conflict inducing. We will talk about self-empowerment and what you did right in the situation and how it made you feel. With DBT, there is not advocation to change or be anyone other than yourself. Using mindfulness through DBT and weekly sessions with your counselor, you can learn to handle your emotions like a master and reduce stress in your life.


Who is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy For?

This therapy model can truly be for anyone seeking a holistic and mindful approach to healing in their lives. Oftentimes, people come to me for this type of modality when they have been discouraged by previous therapy experiences. Also, when someone has seen a counselor who has tried to “change” them, it can be frustrating. This type of therapy can be fore you if you have had that sort of experience. Really anyone who wants to try something different and has a leaning toward mindfulness can benefit from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.


For More Information Or to Book a Session

In my office, I use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy more often than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy because I believe so much in using mindfulness to heal. I often ask my clients to write out journal assignments to discover who they really are and as a meditative technique. This modality comes natural then to the way that I view psychotherapy as a whole. Calming your mind, regulating your emotions, being aware of yourself and acceptance are all important pieces to my practice. If this resonates with you, I specialize in both young and adult men’s issues and am happy to meet with you. Simply click here to easily book your session with me.

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