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DBT Explained

DBT techniques used to assist patients.

1. Core Mindfulness  

One important benefit of DBT is the development of mindfulness skills. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present or "live in the moment." This helps you pay attention to what is happening inside you (your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and impulses) as well as using your senses to tune in to what's happening around you (what you see, hear, smell, and touch) in non-judgmental ways. 

Mindfulness skills help you slow down and focus on using healthy coping skills when you are in the midst of emotional pain. The strategy can also help you stay calm and avoid engaging in automatic negative thought patterns and impulsive behaviour. 

2. Distress Tolerance  

Distress tolerance skills help you accept yourself and your current situation. DBT teaches several techniques for handling a crisis, including: 

  • Distraction 

  • Improving the moment 

  • Self-soothing 

  • Thinking of the pros and cons of not tolerating distress 

Distress tolerance techniques help prepare you for intense emotions and empower you to cope with them with a more positive long-term outlook.

3. Interpersonal Effectiveness  

Interpersonal effectiveness helps you to become more assertive in a relationship (for example, expressing your needs and be able to say "no") while still keeping a relationship positive and healthy. You will learn to listen and communicate more effectively, deal with challenging people, and respect yourself and others. 

  • Gentle. Don't attack, threaten, or judge others 

  • Interest. Show interest with good listening skills (don't interrupt someone else to speak) 

  • Validate. Acknowledge the other person's thoughts and feelings 

  • Easy. Try to have an easy attitude (smile often and be light-hearted) 

4. Emotion Regulation  

Emotion regulation lets you navigate powerful feelings in a more effective way. The skills you learn will help you to identify, name, and change your emotions. 

When you are able to recognize and cope with intense negative emotions (for example, anger), it reduces your emotional vulnerability and helps you have more positive emotional experiences. 


What Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Can Help with:

  • DBT was developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Marsha Linehan and colleagues when they discovered that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) alone did not work as well as expected in patients with BPD. Dr. Linehan and her team added techniques and developed a treatment to meet the unique needs of these individuals. 

    Though developed with BPD in mind, DBT might also be an effective treatment for:7 


    What you’ll learn: 

    •  Acceptance and change: You’ll learn strategies to accept and tolerate your life circumstances, emotions, and yourself. You will also develop skills that can help you make positive changes in your behaviours and interactions with others. 

    • Behavioural: You'll learn to analyse problems or destructive behaviour patterns and replace them with more healthy and effective ones. 

    • Cognitive: You'll focus on changing thoughts and beliefs that are not effective or helpful.   

    • Skill sets: You’ll learn new skills to enhance your capabilities. 

    • Support: You'll be encouraged to recognize your positive strengths and attributes and develop and use them. 

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