Cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] identifies and forcefully transforms the negative thought patterns into optimistic behavioral changes. While dialectical behavioral therapy [DBT] is a form of CBT and is applied to treat self-destructive and suicidal behavior. It educates sufferers on how to handle it skillfully and change their unhealthy behavior.

What is so unique about DBT?

‘Dialectical’ means bringing together opposites in the therapy that is ‘acceptance’ and ‘change’. The potential of both working together helps to bring great results instead of using either one alone. In DBT therapy, the therapist develops two groups of acceptance-oriented and two groups of changes-oriented modules.

Acceptance-oriented modules

  • Mindfulness – Learn on how to concentrate, be aware of current situation as well as accept your feelings, thoughts and behavior as they arise without trying to manipulate or control them.
  • Distress tolerance – Learn how to cope during crisis and tolerate the distress even if it is impossible or hard to change that situation. Learn to accept the given circumstances as it is instead of thinking of how it needs to be. Learn new skills like self-soothing and distraction to cope and improve disturbing situations.

Change-oriented modules

  • Emotional regulation – Learn to manage emotions efficiently and not allow feelings to control you.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness – Study assertive strategies to properly ask yourself what you need or want. Learn to say no in such a way that you respect yourself and even other thus efficiently managing interpersonal conflicts.

What condition is treated with DBT?

DBT focuses on tough treating, high risk patients, especially with multiple diagnoses. In the start, DBT was designed for only patients with borderline personality disorder and suicidal behavior. However, it soon got adapted for mental issues that increases the risk of patient’s safety, work, emotional well-being, and relationships. Borderline personality disorder leads patients to acute emotional pain. The patient may suddenly burst into aggression and anger, have sudden mood swings and respond intensely to rejection.

Substance abuse is very common with people suffering from borderline personality disorder. Patients who undertake DBT sessions notice improvements like –

  • Less anger
  • Enhanced social functioning
  • Less-severe suicidal thoughts
  • Less likely to quit treatment

DBT has also been proved to be effective in treating –

  • ADHD
  • Binge eating
  • PTSD
  • Mood instabilities
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

DBT treatment primary modalities are –

  1. Individual therapy
  2. Group skill training
  3. Consultation group
  4. Phone coaching

Effectiveness of DBT in helping people regulate their extreme behavior as well as alleviate impulsive and damaging behavior makes it an appealing treatment option.