DBT is a broad-based cognitive – behavioral treatment plan with a strong focus on mindfulness. It is a therapy that was originally developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, a strong woman struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder, that wanted to come up with a treatment plan for chronically suicidal individuals that are struggling getting through everyday life. DBT was developed to treat BPD, which is why it was introduced to me. However, I am a firm believer that the skills taught in DBT would be life changing to anybody.
The overall goal of DBT skills training is to help individuals change behavioral, emotional, thinking and interpersonal patterns associated with problems in living. DBT emphasizes the importance of the adaptive value of emotions and understanding them. The skills are based on the view that emotions are brief, involuntary, full systemed patterned responses to external and internal stimuli. Modifying any part of the emotional system is likely to change the functioning of the entire system.
The treatment function of DBT is to enhance individuals capability by increasing the skillful behavior, so the individual can improve and maintain motivation to change and engage with treatment. DBT aims to ensure that generalization to change occurs through treatment, and assist the individuals in restructuring or changing their environment in such a way that it supports and maintains progress and advancement towards goals. It’s taught under seven assumptions;
- People are doing the best they can. All people at any given point in time are doing the best they can.
- People want to improve. The common characteristic of all people is that they want to improve their lives and be happy.
- People need to do better, try harder and be more motivated to change. The fact that people are doing the best they can, and want to do better does not mean that these things are enough to solve the problem. We have to want to improve, continually grow and get better.
- We may not have caused all of our problems, but we have to solve them anyway. People have to have change in their own behavioral responses and alter their environment to see any change.
- New behavior has to be learned in all relevant contexts. New behavioral skills must be practiced in the situations where the skills are needed not just in the situation where the skills are learned.
- All behaviors are caused. There is always a cause or set of causes for out actions thoughts and emotions even if we do not know what the causes are.
- Figuring out and changing the causes of behavior work better than judging and blaming. It is easier to judge and blame, but if we want to create change in the world we have to change the chains of events that cause the unwanted behaviors.
DBT is broken into four modules 1.Mindfulness and 2.Distress Tolerances which teach acceptance skills and Interpersonal 3.Effectiveness and 4.Emotion Regulation which teach change skills. Mindfulness teaches the ability to consciously experience and observe oneself and surrounding events without judgement. Mindfulness is the core skill of DBT, and the backbone to the next three skills, where you learn how to change your own behaviors, emotions, and thoughts that are linked to causing you misery and distress.
Hey everyone, thank you for reading. I am very passionate about DBT as it has helped me save my own life (more than once), and all around be a better person. I am so grateful that it was introduced to me and how the skills have come to change my life for the better. I am so better off with these skills in my back pocket, and I really hope that they can help you too. If you are struggling at all please know that I am a safe ear to reach out to, and that even though asking for help is paralyzing- know that you are worth it. You have already survived your toughest moments. Your resilience is amazing, and you deserve your life completely. Know that you are enough, and that I love you. Let’s work together to end the stigma surrounding mental health, we all have it and we are all deserving of our best lives ever.