Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DBT-Yeah, It Works

I've talked a lot about DBT in my blog, and at the risk of sounding like I'm part of some weird brain washing self-help cult; I can honestly say that DBT has saved my life. Prior to the creation of DBT (developed by Marsha M. Linehan in the late 70's), BPD was referred to as "the impossible disorder" because therapists literally had no idea how to treat someone with Borderline. Sadly even today there are professionals who will refuse to work with Borderline patients because of the unpredictability of the disorder. Fortunately with the development of DBT there is now a specific treatment for BPD.  So what is DBT exactly? DBT or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is,

-A therapy designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful, such as self-harm, suicidal thinking, and substance abuseThis approach works towards helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states and helping to assess which coping skills to apply in the sequence of events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to help avoid undesired reactions. DBT assumes that people are doing the best they can but are either lacking the skills or influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interfere with their ability to function appropriately.-

DBT combines CBT techniques with Buddhist mindfulness practices along with other practices for tolerating stress and regulating emotions. The elements of DBT are broken up into 4 modules: Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, and Mindfulness. The full scope of DBT includes both a group, where members will learn about the skills within each of these modules (and usually get some sort of homework to practice these skills) and individual therapy (which includes things like Diary Cards and Behavior Chain Analysis).

The thing I like about DBT is that it isn't one size fits all. There are a variety of different skills and the individual can use the skills that works best for them (take what you like and leave the rest). I thought I would share a list of my favorite DBT skills and the ones I go to the most. Each is linked to give further explanation.

Mind States 
So, this isn't a skill, but I've found it's a really good way of simplifying how my brain works and how I want to get it to work.


Build Mastery

*Particularly activities, comparisons, thoughts, and sensations

*I have two self-soothe boxes

Pros and Cons

Radical Acceptance

Here is the most important thing I can tell you about DBT. You have to put in the effort, you have to want it to work for you. DBT doesn't end when you leave your therapist's office or when you walk out of group. I don't just use skills when I'm in crisis, I practice them daily. To the point they come naturally.

If any of you have any questions about DBT or want to chat about it feel free to email me at

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