What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

DBT is a psychotherapy developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan and her colleagues at the University of Washington to treat Borderline Personality Disorder and other disorders of emotion regulation. DBT combines behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, and both eastern and western contemplative practices. DBT has been extensively researched and shown to be effective in reducing impulsive, self destructive behaviors such as suicide attempts, gestures, and thoughts; cutting and other non-suicidal self injurious behavior; substance abuse; angry outbursts; and disordered eating. DBT helps individuals gain control of their behaviors and emotions; develop deep understanding of their emotion, thought, and behavior patterns; and replace maladaptive, self defeating behaviors with skillful, adaptive coping.

DBT can help individuals suffering from a range of problems related to emotional and behavioral dysregulation. These include:

  • Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior
  • Non Suicidal Self Injurious Behavior, Such As Cutting
  • Mood Swings
  • Sense of Emptiness
  • Chaotic Realtionships
  • Anger Management Problems
  • Fear of Rejection and Abandonment
  • Substance Abuse
  • Emotional Eating

Sometimes skills classes aren’t the best solution.  As an alternative, skills can be learned in a one-on-one setting.  This is essentially a “class of one”, just you and I.

About Individual Skills Coaching:

  • Sessions are weekly
  • Each week the previous skill is reviewed and a new skill is introduced.
  • Progression and skills can be customized for each individual.
  • Each week a small homework assignment is given.  Members are asked to try that week’s skill in their real life.
  • Individual skills coaching is always done in conjunction with ongoing psychotherapy.  This can be with me.

What is actually taught?

Their are four main sets of personal skills: Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotional Regulation and Distress Tolerance.  Each subject is covered for a period of four to ten weeks.

Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment, exactly as it is unfolding without judging it or needing to respond to it.

Interpersonal Effectiveness means being effective with others: asking for things or saying no in such a way that you get what you really want, maintain relationships and enhance your self-esteem.

Emotional Regulation means understanding, moderating or changing your emotions so they work for you, not against you.  It also means becoming less vulnerable to problem emotions in general.

Distress Tolerance is the ability to experience distressing, aggravating or upsetting events without resorting to damaging or unwanted behaviors.