Dialectical Behaviour Therapy – What It Is And How It Works

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is categorized under psychotherapy (talk therapy) and implements elements of behaviour therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, and mindfulness in treating individuals with dysfunctional behaviours. This stage-based therapy helps such people to gain control over their behaviours and how they react to specific emotional outcomes. People who have traumatic experiences tend to battle emotional pains and may react more intensely towards a situation than the average person. It takes longer periods for the spike in their emotional levels to wear off, when compared to other people.

Phases of Dialectal Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectal behaviour therapy comes in different phases. Each stage aids in treating individuals with a borderline personality disorder. Such people go through emotional crises and find it difficult to control their behaviour under specific conditions. The average individual may find it challenging to cope with such persons. As such, they tend to lose relationships based on their extreme emotional swings. Only a handful of people may understand individuals with this disorder. DBT addresses this challenge, providing them with mechanisms to live healthy lifestyles.

• The first phase involves offering such people stability and support to control their behaviours. This mechanism prevents them from undergoing emotional crises. It also keeps them safe from self-harm and addiction.

 • In the second phase of treatment, Psychotherapists help such individuals to address emotional triggers, including traumatic experiences, unhealthy thought patterns, and harmful ideologies.

 • The third phase involves the specialist helping the affected individual to solve problems linked to their daily activities. At this point, there is consistency in the recovery process. Patients also take on constructive, feasible goals and own responsibility for their action.

 • The last phase helps such affected persons to develop plans that will culminate into the attainment of spiritual fulfilment and all-round balance in their lives.

Dialectal Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Techniques

DBT comes with unique techniques targeted towards treating borderline personality disorder. Each approach helps affected individuals gain control of their behaviours and react accordingly under specific emotional-based situations. The treatment techniques include the following:

Skills Training Group Sessions

Under dialectal behaviour therapy (DBT), the certified specialist provides affected members with skills training sessions. During these training meetings, these individuals share knowledge and ideas on skills that will aid behavioural control and undertake tasks. Each group session may witness an attendance of participants, ranging from four to ten in number.

One-On-One Therapy

Apart from group sessions, there is also individual therapy, where the individual gets to share specific traumatic experiences and related problems with the therapist. The specialist, in return, provides approaches that will help such a person gain emotional control. These include addressing the root cause or trigger on the spot, assigning tasks, and incorporation skill acquisition to aid emotional recovery. There is a self-monitoring form available to help patients keep tabs on each recovery milestone and aim towards set goals.

Therapists Consultation Sessions

Therapists also experience challenges when treating individuals with borderline personality disorder. As such, they have to undergo constant training and support to help them stay in perfect shape when offering treatment.

Phone Crises Consultation

Patients undergoing treatment can reach out to their therapists on the phone, in-between sessions. This option helps them to manage crises effectively.

DBT also addresses other conditions, like mood disorders (bipolar disorders and depression), substance misuse and addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

Why Dialectal Behaviour Therapy (DBT)?

DBT is a go-to treatment option for individuals who suffer from a mental health disorder. Such people may have self-image issues, low self-esteem, emotional control difficulty, and fear of rejection. They have a hard time maintaining stable relationships due to this problem and may resort to inflicting self-harm. It is worth noting that 10% of these individuals commit suicide. DBT addresses such mental condition and provides the following solution:

• Improved emotional control and tolerance to situations. •A drastic decline in suicidal thoughts andactions, including other self-harming acts. •Improved control over triggers that may lead to depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. •Enhanced healthy lifestyle. Patients can set reasonable and attainable goals that will improve their wellbeing and relationships. •High self-esteem and confidence.

Dialectal behaviour therapy helps people to identify and leverage their strengths to create the lifestyle desired. This cognitive-based treatment option provides such individuals with a platform to identify destructive thoughts, ideologies, and notions. Therapists may include role play when addressing specific triggers that lead to borderline personality disorder. They encourage affected persons to work out their relationships with others. This approach and many more are included in home assignments and skill training. DBT holds weekly to help patients and therapists maintain a keen focus on the recovery process.

Understanding DBT Modules

DBT sessions encapsulate interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and mindfulness. People with BPD have to undergo these modules to receive effective treatment.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

This module addresses a patient’s interaction and relationship with other people. When undergoing DBT skill training, the individual learns how to communicate interpersonal skills effectively. It is worth noting that BPD affects the application of such skills, even though they are present. Such an individual may find it easy to react accordingly from a third-person’s view. However, it becomes a herculean task to communicate the same approach when the situation is personal. Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on effecting change and resisting change (especially when it is negative). Patients can learn how to request something and also refuse something.

Emotion Regulation

Under this module, people with BPD can gain control over their behaviours, including anxiety, anger, depression, and frustration. They have to learn how to manage their emotions – response to external stimulus. Therapists equip patients with skills that will help them: •Improve mindfulness to emotions• React contrastingly to situations. •Identify and label emotions properly. •Address barriers to emotional control. •Curb vulnerability to emotional triggers. •Focus more on positive emotional situations. •Implement distress tolerance techniques

Distress Tolerance

This module focuses on understanding distress. Individuals with emotional instability can identify the source of distress. They also learn how to manage and accept this element, which will aid recovery. In this regard, DBT hinges around bearing pain effectively, which is a foundation for mindfulness skill development. Individuals inculcate the habit of accepting themselves and their situations using a non-judgementalapproach. As such, they know how to tolerate and get through emotional crises without breaking. Strategies implemented under distress tolerance include: •Weighing the merits and demerits. •Improving current situations. •Creating distractions to avoid emotional crises. •Self-soothing oneself to avoid a downward spiral.

Under acceptance skills, patients learn how to accept situations, differentiate wilfulness from willingness, and also incorporate radical acceptance.


DBT plays an essential role in helping emotionally-troubled individuals observe, describe, and participate. These elements fall under the core mindfulness skills.

In Conclusion

Dialectal behaviour therapy is a recommended treatment program for people who battle different disorders, including borderline personality disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, and substance abuse. They can learn to understand and accept their emotions, which is a foundation for recovery. But that is not all. They also acquire skills to aid in handling such conditions. Finally, such individuals can develop and execute goals that will result in healthy living.

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