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    Dialectical Behavior Therapy

    Do you feel your mind is being pulled in a hundred different directions at once? Do you have a hard time handling some of your emotions, and does this cause any problems in your relationships?

    Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) offers individuals comprehensive skills to manage painful memories and emotions and decrease conflicts in their relationships. This modality focuses on 4 specific areas of therapeutic skills. These are:

    • Mindfulness – Helps individuals be present in the current moment.
    • Distress tolerance – Most people try and keep themselves safe from all negative emotions. Distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance to negative emotion.
    • Emotion regulation – Offers strategies to manage intense emotions that are the root cause of problems in a person’s life.
    • Interpersonal effectiveness – These techniques allow an individual to communicate with others in a confident, assertive way that maintains self-respect and strengthens relationships.

    How Does it Work Exactly?

    Many of us live our daily lives with a constant stream of uncontrollable negative emotions right under our awareness. These emotions affect how we feel about ourselves and how we interact with other people, including friends, romantic partners and family members.

    DBT essentially works with individuals to help them find ways to manage their negative emotions so they can feel balanced, in control and able to interact respectfully and successfully. The message at the heart of DBT is acceptance and change.

    When is DBT Used and What Can You Expect?

    While dialectical behavioral therapy was initially developed to treat those with borderline personality disorder, research has since shown that DBT can successfully treat people with depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

    DBT treatment usually consists of a combination of DBT skills groups and individual therapy sessions. The individual therapy sessions allow you to have one-on-one contact with a trained therapist who will help you apply DBT skills to your daily life, address any obstacle that may arise and keep you motivated! The DBT skills group interactions will help you practice skills with others and offer mutual support.

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is all about training the mind to lessen emotional suffering.  On one hand DBT believes a person is doing the best they can do given their circumstances and they are accepted unconditionally. On the other hand, there is always room for change and growth.  With consistent practice of the DBT skills , we learn to relate to our emotions and struggles in a different, more healthy way, learning to cope with life’s ups and downs which will inevitably occur.

    DBT does not focus on right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, weak vs. strong.  Instead it’s about creating a life worth living, focusing on the results we want out of life.  We practice being non-judgmental of others and learn to radically accept our past, ourselves and others, realizing we cannot change the past or predict the future.

    According to Marsha Linehan (1993), developer of DBT, numerous scientific studies have found that DBT is effective in helping people manage their emotions, decrease problem behaviors including substance abuse, suicide attempts, self-harm and eating disorders. Linehan hypothesized (Koerner, 2012) that three factors contribute to a person’s vulnerability.  First, people prone to emotion dysregulation react with high sensitivity.  Second, they experience and express emotions intensely. Third, they experience a long-lasting arousal which is more difficult to tolerate.

                Life will be more meaningful when you identify the character traits you want to change, how willing you are to change your emotional state and what you want most out of life (dreams, goals, values, family, career, etc.).

    Finding a DBT Therapist

    If you are interested in exploring DBT therapy, look for a therapist with specialized training and experience in DBT strategies. It’s also important that you look for someone you feel comfortable with. Allan J. Katz LPC has over six years of experience utilizing DBT skills to treat people with substance abuse, bipolar and personality disorders in both group and individual settings. His book, Experiential Group Therapy Interventions with DBT has sold thousands of copies worldwide to clinicians who utilize these methods.

    If you or someone you know may benefits from dialectic behavioral therapy, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help. Call the office at 901-248-6001 and ask for a FREE 15-minute DBT consultation.