Based on cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) looks to help those who experience emotions very intensely. The approach was originally created in the late 1980s to help people with borderline personality disorder, however, it is now used to help several mental health challenges.
DBT is a type of talking therapy designed to help you learn how to accept these intense emotions and to regulate them so that you are better able to change and behaviour that may be harmful or unhealthy. In DBT, you will be working towards finding a balance between acceptance (accepting your emotions and who you are) and change (making positive changes to your behaviour and life).
DBT is support-orientated, helping you to identify your strengths, it is also cognitive-based, helping you to identify thoughts and beliefs that could be making things harder, and it is a collaborative effort between yourself and your therapist.
Dialectical behavioural therapy is usually delivered through individual weekly sessions and weekly group sessions. The individual sessions are usually focused on solving any issues that have come up in the last week, whereas the group sessions are focused on skill-building.
Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is based around four modules:
- Mindfulness: helping to observe your thoughts and to be present and grounded in the moment.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: helping you to learn how to cope with personal conflict, how to say no, and how to ask for what you need.
- Distress tolerance: Rather than seeking to change a distressing event, DBT helps you understand, accept, and tolerate distress better. This module aims to be able to handle pain competently, manage crises, be able to self-soothe, distract yourself, and weigh up pros and cons.
- Emotion Regulation: For those who experience emotions intensely, this is an essential skill. You will learn how to identify and label emotions, increase positive emotional events, and take opposite action.
There is no set timeline for DBT, and each individual will progress at different rates.