DBT ( Dialectic Behavioral Therapy) is a tried and trusted therapy that helps people to live their life effectively. The lessons that are learnt as part of the DBT therapy target emotional dysregulation along with interpersonal skills which really help people develop relationships and find true satisfaction in the lives they are leading.
Mindfulness forms the backbone of the skills set and so this is taught first, the other skills follow on and can be even worked through as the need arisies.
What is DBT?
Dialectic, in this instance, is taken to mean the acceptance that opposites which on the face of it are contradictory, eg. wanting to have your cake and eat it; co-exist in our human experience. We recognise that we can love and hate the same thing at the same time, want to hold something in one hand and push it away with the other. Dialectics also accepts that there is always an opposite even if we cannot see it at the time, and that the only thing that is constant in the world is change itself.
The dialectic approach also directly uses the connectivity associated with all aspects of the world. If we change one thing in a system (part of ourselves for example); by changing our response and behavioural action; there will be a knock on effect to another part of the system (how others relate to us for example).
DBT encourages the search for truth by seeking the middle path between emotional and reasonable mind. The middle path, or “wise mind” looks at the facts of a situation, and then asks how we feel about the situation, ie what is actually happening and what do I want to do about it?
When we are dysregulated, we lose the ability to see the facts as they are, or our emotions become so shut down we don’t know how we feel about the facts. In this situation we are unable to make any sort of reasoned choice. Often, we can be highly emotional and act out our emotions, or use means to avoid our emotions, (suicidal behaviours, self-harm and addictions, fall into this category). When our lives are governed by our emotions it can feel like we are in a constant storm, unable to get any sort of grip on reality and for many of us life simply isn’t worth living.
How DBT can help.
DBT teaches mindfulness, the focusing of attention on the present moment. It asks, “what is actually happening right now?”. Once we work out what is happening, we then learn to employ one, or some, of a range of skills designed and tried and tested, that will help us choose what to do next.
Skills training is about learning new ways for old problems, challenging thought patterns and, more importantly, behavioural actions. Unlike other therapies, DBT does not concern itself with whys, how’s etc… rather DBT accepts that this is how it is right now, understands that we have been doing the best we can but that we can do better and change the future.
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