Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is not your stereotypical talk with a shrink. It is not sitting on a couch talking about feelings you had while you were a child. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) is an intense program that focuses on specific skills to gain control of your emotions and thereby your life. It’s about creating a life that’s worth living.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that was developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan, PhD.

The idea behind DBT is that some people are born with highly sensitive and reactive emotional systems. They tend to have quick emotional reactions that are very strong and intense, and they are slow to have their emotions return to normal. This can create a lot of problems, including problems with relationships, problems dealing with our own emotions, and problems dealing with severe, intense emotional reactions that just don’t seem to go away. You may end up engaging in some kind of self-destructive behavior – suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts, self injury, drinking or using drugs – in order to cope. These behaviors help in the moment, but they don’t solve the problem – in fact, they make your problems worse – but you don’t know what else to do.

If this sounds all too familiar to you, DBT may be the answer.

DBT work is unlike many traditional therapies in that it is very structured, follows a very specific protocol, and has four different components. 

All of them are important, and anyone in DBT therapy must attend to them all. 

Individual Therapy

Your individual sessions are used to look at specific problematic behaviors. We take the time to really understand why you engage in behaviors that are ultimately self-defeating and figure out different solutions. It may not seem like there is a reason for your behaviors, but there always is – we just have to find it. Then we can figure out a different, better way to handle whatever was going on.

Skills Group

In this group, you will learn specific skills in each of four different modules. You’ll have the chance to talk about your challenges and your successes in using them. These skills will also come into your individual sessions, in trying to find different solutions to your problems.

Phone Consult

Phone consultation is a very important part of DBT. Between sessions, you will have contact with your therapist by phone or by text.  These are brief contacts, no more than 5-10 minutes – but they are used when you are in a situation where you are trying to use the skills you learned in group, and you’re not sure how to do it.  It’s like a mini cheerleading session. Your therapist will help you figure out how to best use the skills you have to solve the problem you’re facing.

Therapist Consultation Team

Although you need to be aware of this, it actually doesn’t involve you at all. Your DBT therapist is on a weekly DBT consultation team that is made up of other therapists who have been trained in DBT. The purpose of this team is to keep your therapist on track with treatment – to be sure your therapist is providing the best treatment possible. During the meeting, members “do DBT on each other” in order to keep them centered on providing the best possible care within the DBT model.

The Group Skills component is an extremely important part of treatment.

It consists of four different modules, or sets, of skills.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a big buzzword these days, and there’s a good reason for that: it works. A consistent mindfulness practice helps us to stay present in this moment, and not get pulled off into the past or present. It helps us to remain centered and grounded, no matter what is happening around us.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

In other words, learning better ways to relate to people. These are ways to make it more likely that you will get what you want out of your relationships – also that you will be able to effectively say no when someone asks you to do something you don’t want to do.

Emotion Regulation

One of the hardest things can be feeling that your emotions are unpredictable – you may feel fine one minute, be incredibly sad the next, and be ragefully angry shortly after that. It doesn’t make sense to other people, and it doesn’t make sense to you – but it feels like it’s not under your control. I can help you get better control over your emotion, instead of your emotion having control of you.

Distress Tolerance

Sometimes your reaction may be so intense that you don’t know what to do. You may say or do things that you later regret, just trying to get through that moment. What if you could  find a way to hold on through that emotion, to not act on it? It is possible.

Build A Life Worth Living.

DBT is intense. It involves a BIG investment of your time and resources. It is a lot of work. It isn’t easy- in fact, sometimes it can be pretty miserable. But it can change your life. 

Together, we can help you build a life worth living.