By: Dr. Tiffany Ruelaz
Do you want to learn how to cope with stress, manage emotions or improve your interpersonal skills? Then DBT may be for you!
Developed in the 1980’s by Marsha Linehan, this therapeutic approach is heavily influenced by the philosophical perspective of dialectics: balancing opposites. In DBT, a therapist and patient work to find ways to hold two opposite perspectives to promote balance and avoid a black and white way of thinking. At its core, DBT is about acceptance and change.
How is DBT Different from CBT?
During individual sessions, a patient works to enhance their self-respect and self-image. There is an emphasis on problem solving one’s behavior from previous issues and learning to adapt those problem-solving skills to the patient’s personal life challenges.
Group settings are where patients learn new skills each week and have the opportunity to work on the skills they have learned with others in the group. It is a way of practicing their skills before applying them to the real world. Behavioral skills are enhanced through weekly assignments outside of therapy.
Phone coaching focuses on how the client can figure out what skills to use and how to use them to navigate difficult everyday situations or if one is feeling strong urges to be impulsive in a dangerous way. Patients can call their therapist between sessions to receive guidance on how to cope with a current crises they are in.
4 Main Strategies
Mindfulness helps you to live in the moment and focus on the present. This keeps patients from dwelling on the past which they cannot change, or the future which they cannot predict. In addition, patients learn techniques to stay calm and avoid automatic negative thoughts.
Focus on your breathing. Sit down, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
2. Distress Tolerance
In a non-judgmental fashion, distress tolerance helps patients to accept themselves and their current situations. Distracting, self-soothing, improving the moment, and thinking of pros and cons are four techniques taught to help survive crises.
Self-soothe using your senses. Take a raisin and smell it, feel the bumpy texture, see the color, taste it, and hear what it sounds like when you chew it.
3. Interpersonal Effectiveness
With interpersonal effectiveness, patients will learn assertive and effective ways to communicate that strengthen their bonds with others and maintain their self-respect. Skills include asking for what one needs, how to say “no” and how to cope with conflict.
Use the acronym GIVE:
Gentle: Do not attack or judge others
Interest: Show interest and actively listen to the other person
Validate: Validate the other person’s feelings and opinions
Easy: Have an easy attitude by smiling and using a light-hearted tone
4. Emotion Regulation
Emotion regulation teaches patients to recognize and cope with intense negative emotions and have more positive emotional experiences.
Write down daily positive self-affirmations. Take time every day to acknowledge the positive things about yourself and what you are grateful for in your life. Doing so can help you to overcome self-sabotaging thoughts.
What Can DBT Help With?
DBT was created to help people struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder, however it works for SO many other problems as well. DBT may be effective if you struggle with:
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If you have tried talk therapy and find that it is not really working for you or helping much, DBT could be right for you.
What Services Are Offered Through Change AZ?
Change AZ offers affordable and accessible online mental health counseling for all of Arizona, no insurance needed! We currently offer 4 different DBT groups based on age.
- 12-15 years old
- 15-18 years old
- 18-24 years old
- and 24+ y/o
In our groups, you (or your teen) will learn ways to manage the behaviors and the emotions leading to crises in your life. We offer weekly sessions that are convenient for your schedule.
Click here to learn more!
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