What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

3.8 min read|744 words|Categories: Treatment & Therapy|
daughter hugging mother participating in dialectical behavioral therapy

It’s no secret that life is a series of challenges and victories alike. From one day to the next, we’ll experience the highs and the lows that life sends our way. Even though we often cannot control much of what happens to us on a daily basis, we always have a hand in how we respond. In fact, it’s often our emotional response to life’s issues and successes that play more of a role in determining who we become.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) helps patients learn to manage emotional response to life’s events, oftentimes events that elicit feelings of trauma, depression, grief or loss. To help mitigate conflict and promote positive emotional responses to life’s conflicts, dialectical behavioral therapy offers patients therapeutic modalities that improve focus and emotional management.

If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety or co-occurring disorders, DBT can help you better regulate feelings before they manifest into destructive actions or tendencies. Specifically, DBT can help you manage emotional response in four distinct ways:

1. Adopt mindfulness therapy

Mindfulness might be the most important facet of dialectical behavioral therapy, in that it calls for a developed understanding of what is happening around you. Mindfulness therapy is simple: it helps clients focus on the current moment, what they’re currently feeling and experiencing, and how those thoughts and feelings ultimately contribute to the actions we take.

One major aspect of mindfulness requires that we slow down and take in each moment as it happens. Mindfulness therapy helps reorganize the thought process, eliminating automatic negative conclusions and promoting clear thinking, regardless of the day’s events or issues.

2. Learn distress tolerance

When it comes to distress tolerance, it’s all about acceptance: acceptance of yourself, your emotions and your current situation. Mindfulness therapy and other treatment modalities can actively help you promote healthy thoughts and productive habits; distress tolerance ensures that no matter where you are on your therapy journey, you can come to accept and love yourself.

Distress tolerance hinges on 4 distinct skills:

  1. Self-distraction
  2. Learning to improve the current moment
  3. Balancing positives/negatives of improper distress management
  4. Self-calming

Independent from therapy modalities that help you address life’s challenges, distress tolerance forces you to take time and accept yourself for who you are in the moment. You are more than the sum of your challenges or the disorders you face; instead, you are an individual who should feel proud of your progress to date, who should feel optimistic about your future.

3. Develop interpersonal effectiveness

Your opinions are meant to be more than felt and experienced; they are meant to be shared. That’s exactly what interpersonal effectiveness helps you do: share your thoughts and opinions in the context of a relationship, without compromising your mental or emotional state or your relationship itself. In a productive, straightforward manner, interpersonal effectiveness helps you uphold your end of familial, fraternal or romantic relationships.

Just as a relationship can come to a halt if only one party makes a habit of regular communication, a relationship flourishes when both parties agree to open, honest conversation. Learning to effectively communicate in any relationship also means being ready to listen to other individuals, and to process and understand their thoughts and opinions with equal importance to your own.

4. Practice emotional regulation

Finally, emotional regulation helps you process strong feelings in a rational manner. In fact, the first step when it comes to ultimately changing your emotions is to identify them and understand their triggers. Before you allow thoughts or emotions, positive or negative, to influence your actions, emotional regulation can provide you with the tools you need to positively identify and control what you’re feeling.

Emotional regulation begins with recognizing familiar emotions, especially emotions which you know have contributed to destructive actions in the past. Instead, after identifying your emotions as you feel them, emotional regulation helps you to reduce emotional vulnerability and cope with any negative thoughts and feelings before they manifest into experience.

Manage emotions and improve relationships through DBT

Dialectical behavioral therapy is your first step toward improved emotional management. Learn to better regulate emotion, improve communication in relationships and increase mindfulness, all while improving self-confidence through distress tolerance. Schedule an appointment with a licensed online counselor today through Pyramid Online Counseling, to take steps toward a more stable emotional state. Speak with your healthcare provider today to determine how online counseling can serve as a viable solution to help you manage life’s challenges.

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