Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) teaches Mindfulness Skills, Distress Tolerance Skills, Emotion Regulation Skills, and Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills to help individuals regulate emotions, decrease impulsive behaviours, and create a life worth living.

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) was developed by Marsha Linehan. It has some similarities with Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) in that both therapies help individuals change unhelpful thinking patterns and help them increase effective behaviors. DBT however also adds several acceptance strategies such as learning and practicing mindfulness, and skills for accepting and tolerating distress. DBT has been shown to be particularly effective in helping individuals regulate emotions, both over-controlled or under-controlled ones. In DBT emotional dysregulation is believed to be linked to impulsive or maladaptive behaviors that in turn can have negative or undesirable effects on an individual’s life. The main focus of DBT is to help individuals improve the quality of their lives through engagement in skillful behaviors, increasing emotional experiencing of wanted emotions, and decreasing intense unwanted ones.

What are DBT skills?

Most of us would agree that engaging in behaviors that align with our values and goals is preferred to engaging in behaviors that may have painful or unfulfilling consequences. So why, as human beings, do we engage in behaviors that do not fit our values or move us further from our goals, such as substance use, eating disorders, or unhelpful interpersonal patterns? According to DBT, it is because of skills deficits such as not knowing the skillful behaviour needed or not knowing when or how to use them. A core part of DBT is teaching skills within four main areas: mindfulness skills, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation skills, and interpersonal effectiveness skills.

Mindfulness Skills

Mindfulness skills increase our focused attention on the present moment allowing us to fully attend to what is happening both inside of us and around us. Mindfulness skills help us become present to our lives and help us take control of our minds.

Distress Tolerance Skills

Distress tolerance skills are a set of skills that allow us to accept reality as it is and to tolerate the distress of the moment without making the moment worse. These sets of skills help us get through difficulties effectively.

Emotion Regulation Skills

Emotion regulation skills focus on changing difficult emotions and increasing emotional experiencing of wanted emotions. These set of skills are active change-focused skills that not only help us regulate emotions, but also help us problem solve difficult situations to make effective changes in our lives.

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills

Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills help us improve our relationships with others, set limits, and get what we want or need from others in a way that maintains our self-respect.

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