Compassionately Facilitating Change

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Positive Psychotherapy

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy which was developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the 1970s.  DBT uses all of the components of CBT with the additional components of Mindfulness, Acceptance, and DIstress Tolerance.  The focus of DBT is to help an individual gain awareness of his/her harmful patterns of behavior, to learn the value of the "wise mind," and understand what it means to live a balanced life. 


The DBT therapist uses a "chain analysis" to help the client gain an understanding of all of the elements influencing his/her patterns of behavior.  The "chain analysis" is a method of looking very closely at specific situations which led to the behavior that the client wishes to change: the target behavior. To complete this analysis the therapist gathers information about the factors contributing to the client's vulnerabilities as well as the client's moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings, actions, and environmental interactions. Special attention is focused on the consequences of the target behavior. The analysis is constructed for each situation in which the target behavior occured to help the client develop a full understanding of all the elements of the behavior and to help the client work toward change. 


The DBT therapist also teaches these skills:


Acceptance - the ability to fully recognize the current reality as it is and to allow this reality to exist without judgment or trying to change it.


DIstress Tolerance - the ability to endure and accept emotional pain and discomfort as it exists in normal daily activities. 


Emotion Regulation - the ability to recognize and manage emotional experiences with the goal of keeping them from becoming too intense. 


Interpersonal Effectiveness - the ability to problem solve, to resolve conflict, and to be assertive without aggression all within the context of healthy relationships.


Mindfulness - the ability to non-judgmentally observe one's emotional, physical, and cognitive experiences in every given moment with the goal of maintaining a "wise mind."