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DBT Sydney: Get Help With DBT Therapy By Our Specialist Psychologists In Sydney & Online
What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a psychotherapy method. It was created primarily to treat a condition called borderline personality disorder (BPD) however it is also used to treat a range of other psychological issues. Particularly with those who experience intense emotions.
The method involves tools and strategies to cope with and manage strong emotions and feelings. It helps by providing alternative strategies which are more useful to the person’s health, life and relationships, as opposed to short term destructive behaviours.
For example, it is common for some people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) to cut themselves as a way to distract from emotional distress. They do this when they feel too overwhelmed to cope and need a quick release. However, this can cause serious harm or even death to the person so it is not an ideal strategy.
Instead, they can replace that unhelpful activity with something more sustainable such as listening to music loudly, holding ice cubes or taking a cold shower. They can get the same result as the former but it is not harmful to them and therefore a helpful and sustainable way to cope in the long term.
In addition, there are other skills within DBT that help a person such as mindfulness, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness (managing relationships) which are explained below.
How Does DBT Work?
Basically, there are four core modules of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.
As mentioned earlier distress tolerance skills involve learning ways to manage distress. These involve healthy coping behaviours that may replace harmful ones, such as distracting and soothing yourself. Examples would be holding some ice cubes in hand, having a cold shower, listening to loud music you like or smelling strong incents.
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. It’s a way of perceiving the world around you and accepting whatever feelings and emotions that arise without judgement. Mindfulness can also be intended to make someone more aware of their surroundings through the five senses: touch, smell, sight, taste, and sound. By being mindful and therefore accepting and not judging feelings that come up, distress and discomfort can lessen.
People with emotional regulation problems can learn to change their ways of feeling, by learning to recognize, understand, and manage the emotions that are troubling them. They can categorize these regulatory skills into four modules: understanding and naming emotions, changing unwanted emotions, reducing vulnerability, and managing extreme conditions. Specific examples include critical thinking and thought challenging and responding with an opposite emotion they feel. It could also be engaging in an activity that gives them immediate positive emotions or relaxes them, like writing for example.
The three interpersonal skills taught are self-respect, treating others with interest and care, and assertiveness. These skills involve balancing your personal needs with the needs of others you have relationships with, whilst maintaining self-respect and dignity. In other words, the person learns to become more self-aware of their needs, as well as others, and instead of indulging impulsions and negative behaviours, they find a more practical and sustainable way of expressing themselves and interacting.
What To Expect With DBT
With time the use of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) can help a person manage intense emotions and learn to acquire practical and sustainable behaviours that are beneficial to the person and their relationships.
There is a lot of evidence that shows how prolonged DBT can significantly help someone suffering from BPD, trauma or the above conditions. In fact, many of those who suffer from BPD for example will no longer have the diagnosis of the disorder after continuous dialectical behavioural therapy.