Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

What is DBT?

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a program of treatment that combines Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques with Eastern philosophies centred on awareness and acceptance. DBT focuses on learning new skills and strategies to reduce emotional suffering and create a life worth living. The four modules in DBT are: mindfulness (increasing self-observation and awareness), interpersonal effectiveness (dealing with conflicts, balancing getting your needs met with self-respect), emotion regulation (understanding and managing emotions) and distress tolerance (learning to tolerate distress without making the situation worse).

DBT has been shown to be effective for a variety of concerns, including chronic suicidality, self-harming behaviours, depression, eating difficulties, traumatic stress, and alcohol and substance abuse

One focus in DBT is to regain our ability to make wise choices, even when overwhelmed by emotions. The word ‘dialectical’ refers to the integration of two ideas or facts that seem to contradict each other. The main dialectic in DBT is the balance between acceptance and change; recognising that people are doing their best and that they can do better.

DBT can demand a lot of both the participant and the therapist. Working in a highly collaborative way the participant can engage in individual therapy and/or group therapy, and the therapist consults in a DBT consultation team. Where appropriate there may also be phone coaching offered to help individuals generalise skills to their home or work environment. It is likely that the psychologist you meet will focus initially on assessing your readiness and commitment to the DBT process.

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The goals of DBT

Teach specific skills across four modules of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance
Practise new behaviours and skills as a way to gain relief and experience positive change
Enhance capabilities such as emotion regulation and mindfulness skills, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance
Improve motivation and reduce troublesome behaviors
Gain skills in acceptance
Recognise that change is constant and inevitable

The Wise Institute DBT Course

We’ve developed an online course which teaches skills of mindfulness and distress tolerance.

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DBT resources

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