The Gifts of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
By Torrence R. Wimbish, Ph.D., CMCH
This month all the houses will be participating in learning about the many coping skills related to dialectical behavioral therapy, also known as DBT. Dr. Marsha Linehan developed these techniques of emotional regulation that assist people coping with a variety of mental health concerns (psychcentral.com, Grohol, J.). DBT is based on the idea that opposites can coexist also known as a dialectic (DBT Skills Group New Jersey). This means accepting the present moment as it is while weighing out potential different points of view in any situation/ environment (DBT Skills Group New Jersey). DBT is grounded in constantly working on balancing an effort to change and to respond versus reacting to situations (DBT Skills Group New Jersey; psychcentral.com, Grohol, J.). Dr. John Grohol explains that Linehan’s theory points out how some people are more vulnerable to react in a more intense manner toward certain emotional situations, particularly those found in romantic, family and friend relationships (psychcentral.com, Grohol, J.). Dr. Grohol further explains that DBT theory suggests that some people’s arousal levels in such situations can increase far more quickly making it harder to manage the difficult emotions and return to baseline arousal levels (psychcentral.com, Grohol, J.).
DBT skills training is made up of four modules: core mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. They are designed to specifically assist individuals in better managing behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment without judgment. Emotion regulation is understanding and reducing vulnerability to emotions, and changing unwanted emotions. Distress tolerance is learning how to get through crisis situations without making things worse and learning to accept reality as it is. Interpersonal effectiveness involves learning how to appropriately get interpersonal needs met through maintaining relationships and increasing self-respect in relationships. The main goal of DBT skills is to help students build a life worth living.
DBT skills can help people:
- Navigate through stressful times
- Help in a crisis and not make the situation worse
- Understand and manage emotions
- Deal with distress
- Ask for what one wants or effectively say no
- Learn how to be taken seriously
- Learn how to be in the present moment
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