What is DBT Treatment?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral treatment developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1980s which was originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). People who are trying to cope with BPD often experience incredibly intense negative emotions that might be very difficult for them to manage. These emotions can negatively affect their mental health, sleep, eating, working, and interpersonal relationships, along with other facets of their lives. It’s important to treat and manage BPD symptoms in a holistic and specific way in order to improve the quality of life for those living with BPD.

Therapists who use DBT will work with their clients as they search for ways to hold two perspectives at once. This promotes a balanced view of life, instead of viewing the world in black and white, which helps patients regulate their emotions and decision making. The word“dialectic” in Dialectical Behavior Therapy implies the ability to learn principles of acceptance and change. 

In developing DBT, Linehan hoped to help individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder better have control over their emotions, resulting in better relationships with those around them and the world at large. Without treatment and the guidance of a qualified mental health counselor, BPD can cause major rifts in relationships, whether they are familial, romantic, or platonic.

Colloquially known as DBT therapy or just DBT, therapists who practice DBT hope to equip their clients with DBT skills in four main areas:

1. Interpersonal effectiveness: equips individuals with techniques that can help them better communicate with the people around them in ways that strengthen their relationships, make them more assertive, and help them maintain their self respect.

2. Emotion regulation: teaches individuals strategies that can help manage and potentially even alter intense emotions that are causing issues in their lives. 

3. Mindfulness: zeros in on helping individuals accept and remain present in the moment at hand.

4. Distress tolerance: helps increase tolerance of negative emotions (instead of reacting intensely or trying to escape them).

In the years since its inception, DBT has also been found to be beneficial for other mental health related issues, such as:

  • Mood disorders
  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Disordered eating
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression

DBT techniques can also benefit people who hope to better: 

  • Navigate distress
  • Be present in the current moment
  • Tolerate negative emotions
  • Regulate their emotions
  • Communicate and interact with others around them

Generally speaking, pursuing DBT as a solution for any mental health condition involves enrolling in both group DBT skill sessions as well as individual therapy sessions. Your individual sessions will seek to complement the work you’ll do during group meetings. DBT skills groups aim to teach their clients specific DBT skills and how to apply them in practical ways.

A typical DBT skills group will last about one to two hours once a week, and will be led by a trained therapist. These meetings will likely continue for about six months.The individual therapy sessions you can enroll in to further support your DBT practice will involve private sessions with a trained therapist. The goal of these sessions is to help make sure all of the client’s therapeutic needs are met, as well as providing them with support as they integrate their new DBT skills in their daily life. 

Here at Grouport, we offer group therapy that is conducted online through Zoom calls from the safety of your home. Online DBT group therapy is a viable option for treatment of BPD and other mental health disorders. Learn more about our DBT therapy groups HERE.

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