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Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the late 1980s as a means to help better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is founded on principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. It combines standard CBT techniques for emotional regulation and reality testing with concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice such as awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences to encourage acceptance. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas, also referred to as modules, which are core mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and emotion regulation. Each module highlights distinct and specific skills that build upon each other and are integral to one’s healing process.

Core Mindfulness Module

This module focuses on teaching an individual an array of skills to focus their mind and attention. The Mayo Clinic explains that mindfulness is “a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment without interpretation or judgement.” Meditation is the process by which a person can intimately learn the interworking’s of his or her own mind. Meditation helps to teach a person about the various synaptic pathways that have been created in one’s brain. It also creates new, healthy, pathways within one’s brain. Through the practice of meditation, a person can gain insights into the ways in which his or her mind processes information, emotions, and even formulates thought. 

Physiologically, participating in a regular practice of meditation, such as core mindfulness, can result in an individual lowering his or her blood pressure, can help to improve one’s heart rate, and can even help to improve one’s breathing. One study found that individuals who regularly practiced meditation throughout the study lowered the thickness of their arterial walls. This finding implies that these individuals have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. Meditation has also been said to help improve one’s brain waves. There have been studies that indicate the tranquility effects of practicing mindfulness can be directly correlated to a reduction in one’s stress levels, which can subsequently have a positive effect on one’s immune system.

Through learning and implementing the DBT mindfulness skills, individuals can practice being fully present and aware in the moment. Skills during this module help individuals learn to slow down and focus on mindfully acknowledging and experiencing emotions without reacting impulsively and/ or destructively. It teaches skills to help individuals avoid taking things personally, garner a better understanding of their emotions, become active listeners, and learn to sit with emotions instead of trying to ignore, expel, or dismiss them.  


The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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