Do you have intense emotional highs and lows? Maybe regularly find yourself engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, self-harm, eating disorders, and interpersonal conflict? Have you been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder? Or maybe you can identify with one of the following:
If so, Dialectical Behavior Therapy may be the right treatment to get you back on track and help you cope with stress, regulate your emotions, stay present with a strong sense of identity, and thereby improve your relationships with others. The primary goal of DBT is to bring peace and restorative communication and habits to those struggling with certain behaviors and mental health conditions.
DBT was originally developed specifically to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), but has been shown to be successful in treating a wide variety of other conditions. Wondering “is DBT therapy right for me”? Here’s a few things to consider before making that decision.
If your emotions are impacting your life in a consistent way where you feel out of control, overwhelmed, crippled, hopeless, or stuck, you can categorize yourself with the bulk of those suffering from emotional distress. When you go through these intense shifts in emotion you may find yourself participating in reckless or impulsive behaviors such as self-harm, binging or purging food, abusing alcohol or drugs, spending money, or engaging in risky sexual connection. Individuals who experience this type of emotional intensity are usually great candidates for DBT.
Developing a sense of identity is a big part of DBT self-awareness goals. Many people begin DBT feeling lost, isolated, confused, or uncertain of who they are, and leave therapy with a greater sense of self-awareness, respect, confidence, and peace.
If conflict with family members, friends, partners, and even coworkers is a constant part of your life, you may lose people quickly due to ongoing fallouts. Maybe many of your past relationships have been intense or damaging, ended badly, or left you feeling isolated, rejected, hurt, and abandoned. This experience with interpersonal connection creates an even greater sense of instability in your life, which can contribute to the emotional churn cycle of highs and lows. This problem is a great reason to seek out DBT treatment.
When your emotions are overwhelming, do you struggle with solving your problems and getting back to a safe, calm place? This can lead you to make the same bad decisions over and over again, and to choose destructive habits that cause harm to your physical, mental, and emotional health as well as your relationships with others. The initial stage of DBT treatment protocol actually involves identifying and targeting the most concerning or self-destructive behavior types for patience such as those described above, along with non-suicidal self-harm, suicidal ideation, and harm to others.
DBT is usually performed through a combination of both group and individual therapy over the course of about a year. It begins with the perspective that all emotional dysregulation, instability and impulsivity is based in internal chaos, and that shifting your core thoughts and beliefs from negative self-doubt, impulse, and obsession can contribute to resolving chaos in your relationships, and offer protection from self-harm or suicidal ideation.
DBT will teach you to learn to look at problems in new ways and to replace existing, toxic patterns and habits with healthier, more effective self-analysis and decision-making skills.
The 4 main stages of DBT are:
Before jumping headfirst into DBT treatment, make sure you understand that this treatment protocol takes about a year to work through. You’ll need to plan to work through all four of the stages of DBT if you want to see major improvement, and it might even be necessary for you to go back and repeat certain stages for the sake of mastering those specific skill sets according to your unique symptoms.
You’ll also want to do your research on any associated costs, for both individual and group therapy, and see what your insurance will/will not cover.