Daniel Cervantes, MA, LMHCA, CSAYC
Hi, my name is Daniel Cervantes. I’m a counselor with Crosswinds Counseling. Today I would like to talk about a modality of treatment that I find very helpful. It’s called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT for short.
So where did Dialectical Behavioral Therapy come from? It was originally developed by Marsha Linehan, PHD. [It was] created over 25 years ago and then it has evolved since. DBT is an evidence based psychotherapy that began with effort to treat personality disorders and interpersonal conflicts. DBT has been helpful with strengthening one’s ability to handle distress without losing control or acting destructively.
What Is DBT
So what is DBT? DBT is a modified type of cognitive behavioral therapy. It was designed to help individuals in the moment and creates the ability to cope with stress in healthy ways, regulate emotions, and improve one’s relationships with others. Dialectical is being able to see two sides can be correct even if they are conflicting. For example, a coin has two sides. A heads and a tail, but they are both the same coin. Another example is that it can be snowing and springtime – just like in Indiana. They’re conflicting but it happens.
The 4 Areas Of DBT
DBT utilizes skills to improve 4 specific areas of functioning to help a person control their moods, thoughts, and impulses. Each area has a basic and advanced skill set. These skills are mindfulness skills, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation skills, and interpersonal effectiveness skills skills. DBT can be useful in treating mood disorders, suicide ideation, increase one’s ability in changing behavioral patterns such as self-harm and substance use. DBT is also effective in treating overwhelming and destructive behavior.
Let’s talk about mindfulness skills. Mindfulness skills are to be considered meditation skills. Mindfulness skills are the skills that can help one be more aware of their thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and actions in the current moment without judging or criticizing themselves, others, or the experience. It likes taking a mental note of everything that is happening in you and around you.
Distress Tolerance Skills
Now let’s talk about distress tolerance skills. We have those times when our thoughts make our situations much worse. So distress skills are used to increase our ability to handle stressful thoughts and situations. They allow us to cope with distress and pain. This can be physical pain like stubbing one’s toes or emotional pain like losing a friend. Distress tolerance skills allow us to cope through a problem until we are in a safe place and process our thoughts and feelings later.
Emotional Regulation Skills
Now emotional regulation skills. Emotions are our body’s signals that tell us if we feel good or bad. Emotion regulation skills help us to identify our primary and secondary emotions. They allow us to recognize and regulate how we are truly feeling and learn to cope instead of avoiding or using destructive coping strategies to mask our true feelings.
Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
Now interpersonal effectiveness skills. So interpersonal means person to person, and interpersonal relationship skills are just that. They give us skills to improve our ability to have and maintain person to person relationships. These skills help individuals develop healthier social skills, assertiveness skills, and listening skills.
So thank you for your time, and I hope you have enjoyed this information. If you want to learn more about DBT you can see us at Crosswinds Counseling