- Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, has been proven to help people suffering from many mental illnesses
- DBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people learn coping mechanisms for extreme emotions
- DBT is often used along with other forms of psychotherapy, such as CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy
- DBT can help people with PTSD, eating disorders, depression, and more
One of the most helpful things you can do when you have a problem is to talk things over with someone you respect. Verbalizing the problematic issues helps you organize your thoughts and gain a better perspective of what’s bothering you and how to deal with it.
That’s why talk therapy, or psychotherapy, works so well. It gives you a better understanding of your thoughts and also offers advice and instruction from a professional. Many forms of talk therapy are designed to deal with all types of mental illnesses. This guide discusses dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), who can benefit from it, and how effective it is.
Fundamentals of DBT
DBT is a type of talk therapy that was created to treat borderline personality disorder, but it didn’t take long to see how effective it is in treating other mental health issues. It teaches skills and strategies required for problem-solving and regulating emotions.
The goal is to identify negative or ineffectual thinking patterns and work to rectify them using a dialectical method of applying both acceptance and change. The idea is that using acceptance and change together works better to solve a problem than using just one tactic.
The general public often makes unfounded assumptions about DBT. Such as:
- It’s for crazy people
- DBT treatments are only held in a hospital
- Only people with PTSD or BPD can benefit from it
- You have to take medicine
The truth is that anyone with a mental illness can benefit from DBT, and patients may or may not need medication, depending upon their diagnosis and symptoms.
Mental Health Issues That DBT Can Improve
Multiple studies show DBT successfully treats myriad mental illnesses, despite being developed for borderline personality disorder in particular. DBT is now used to treat:
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental illness caused by experiencing or witnessing a highly traumatic event. Symptoms occur without warning at any time and include flashbacks, recurring thoughts, acute anxiety, and night terrors.
Depression is also called major depressive disorder. It is a mental illness brought on by various factors that cause a decline in happiness and mood. It is a feeling of constant sadness that can interfere with daily life.
There is a range of eating disorders. All of them disrupt standard eating patterns. Sufferers typically obsess about food and the size and shape of their bodies. They can have various symptoms, including food binges, severe limitation of food, and purging behaviors, such as vomiting or overexercising.
Having suicidal thoughts, wishes, dreams, or ideas is called suicidal ideation. These thoughts don’t have to include a solid plan to commit the act. They can be just general thoughts on the subject without a plan to carry them out.
Self-harming is when someone hurts themselves, typically by cutting or burning, as a way to deal with painful emotions. It can also include hitting yourself or punching a wall. People who self-harm say it helps to relieve the pressure of stressful memories and circumstances.
DBT is most often used in conjunction with another form of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), when treating these types of mental illnesses.
Efficacy of DBT
DBT has been extensively studied and found to be invaluable in treating many mental illnesses. The first randomized controlled trial of DBT was published in 1991. It was found to significantly improve the mental state of habitually suicidal and self-harming women with BPD or borderline personality disorder. This clinical population was previously considered untreatable.
The effectiveness is accredited to the four stages of treatment. They are:
- Mindfulness. The first step is to learn to be mindful when negative and harmful emotions appear. It isn’t always possible to stop these powerful feelings at first, but realizing they occur is the first step.
- Distress tolerance. Emotional pain and confusion remain even after you become aware of negative behavior. The second step of DBT is learning to get through stressful circumstances without losing your cool.
- Emotion regulation. It takes practice to learn how to control and adjust rapidly surging emotions. It can only be accomplished after mindfulness and distress tolerance are learned. This stage includes tools to use in a moment of distress and later to build resilience to difficult emotions.
- Interpersonal effectiveness. Learning skills that help you effectively communicate with others is vital. They not only strengthen your relationships with other people but also boost your self-respect.
The effectiveness of DBT is well-documented. It works better than most other treatment methodologies for some people because it is very organized. Each step is thoroughly mastered before the next is attempted.
DBT changes lives. It helps people go from an existence of uncontrollable emotions to knowing how to spot and control negative behaviors before they start. DBT requires homework, such as emotion tracking and behavior adaptations. The only other requirements are commitment and a drive to succeed.
We Can Help You Learn More about DBT and Mental Illness Therapies
DBT is a proven successful treatment for mental illness. We can help you learn the skills to control your emotions. The Counseling Center Group provides therapies for groups, couples, individuals, and families. The Counseling Center Group is dedicated to helping you live a life you love. We are committed to providing relatively short-term treatments designed to achieve positive, long-lasting results. Our therapists use structured, evidence-based methods to help you reach realistic goals most efficiently. To learn more about DBT or therapy in general, contact us today.