DBT therapy

The Incredible Power Behind Dialectical Behavioural Therapy


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Written by Emma Reliason

B.A. - Psychologist

16 Aug, 2022

For some people, life has chewed them up and spit them back out. If traumatic or chronically stressful circumstances happen early in childhood we can live out our adult lives feeling stuck on a roller coaster of intense emotions and unstable behaviours.

Emotions control our thoughts and behaviours and when we spend every day feeling as though we can barely keep our heads above water - we may resort to actions that harm ourselves.

What if I were to tell you there was a form of talk therapy specifically designed for those who feel their emotions on a deep, profound level?

That’s exactly what dialectical behavioural therapy was designed to do.

Curious to see if DBT is right for you? In this article, we’ll touch on what dialectical behavioural therapy is, and who may benefit the most from using this form of treatment.

What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, or DBT, is a subtype of cognitive behavioural therapy - a well-known and widely practised method of talk therapy.

The term ‘dialectical’ means ‘understanding opposing forces’. In this sense, it relates to understanding how two thoughts or situations that may seem opposite on the surface can both still be true.

While accepting yourself in all your flaws while simultaneously working to change yourself may seem like opposing ideas but through DBT you’ll learn how these can both be true.

Goals of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

DBT has been tested and proven to help a wide range of mental illnesses and problematic behaviours. While each and every person's situation is unique, there are a few main goals shared across the board.

  • Allow clients to find a balance between accepting themselves and being motivated to make positive changes

  • Teach clients skills that help them regulate their emotions

  • Treat self-destructive behaviours

  • Help a client learn mindfulness practices and stress coping mechanisms

  • Teach distress tolerance skills

Think of dialectical behavioural therapy as a cross between cognitive and behavioural therapies.

While you will spend time talking through problems with your psychotherapist you will also be pushed and guided to make positive changes and redirect negative thinking patterns.

How Is DBT Different Than CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy in which a client and therapist work towards reversing toxic thought patterns that may be affecting areas of your life.

CBT is the most widely used form of psychotherapy as it can help a wide range of people and circumstances. There are many therapists on Talked who practice CBT.

However, there are a few differences between DBT and CBT.

1.   Think of CBT As An Umbrella Term

Cognitive behavioural therapy is more of a catch-all phrase for forms of talk therapy. While its meaning is broad and can include different forms of treatment, DBT is more narrowly focused.

Instead of identifying triggers within themselves, DBT is focused on spotting outside triggers and matching the response with a healthier option.

2.   The Mental Illnesses Treated

While CBT has been proven effective in helping patients with depression and anxiety, DBT was created for those with a borderline personality disorder.

While you can certainly feel deep emotions when you struggle with anxiety, phobias, bipolar disorder or depression, those with borderline personality disorder experience pain on an entirely different level.

DBT aims to help people change their self-destructive behaviours as opposed to CBT, which focuses more on talking through internal thoughts.

3.   The Methods Used

Cognitive behavioural therapy has a narrow focus aimed at teaching a client how their thoughts, feelings, and actions are all tied together.

DBT does work on these issues however, a large portion of treatment is focused on helping a patient regulate their emotions, understand their pain, practice mindfulness techniques and improve strained relationships.

How Do I Know If DBT Is Right For Me?

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is used for patients with a borderline personality disorder. While it’s not strictly limited to this, it’s currently the most effective treatment for anyone struggling with BPD.

DBT is also used for things such as:

Regardless of if you’ve been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder or not, dialectical behavioural therapy may work for you if:

  • You’re motivated to make positive internal changes.

  • You’re committed to working hard in therapy. We have prepared a guide to help you be successful in therapy.

  • You want to focus on your present and future rather than your past.

  • You don’t mind attending group sessions.

Key Takeaways

DBT is useful if you feel as though your thoughts and emotions are taking over your life. If you seem as though you can't control the way you’re feeling and you wish to understand yourself on a deeper level, dialectical behavioural therapy can help you gain control over your mental wellbeing. DBT has been linked to fewer hospital stays, lower rates of drug and alcohol use, a reduction in symptoms of depression and less anger altogether. Once you begin DBT you’ll quickly see just how much this form of therapy can positively impact your life.

Find a DBT therapist today and make a start to a brighter and healthier you.

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Emma Reliason

B.A. - Psychologist

Emma is an accomplished writer with a passion for mental health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology where she gained insight into why people think, feel and behave the way they do.

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