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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic approach that is founded on the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and is rooted in mindfulness practices based on Zen Buddhist teachings. DBT was developed in the late 1980s by Marsha M. Linehan, who was at the time a psychology/ suicide researcher at the University of Washington, as a means to help better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT remains the only empirically supported treatment for BPD, and current evidence also recognizes DBT as an applicable and effective treatment method for many other mental health conditions.

How Does DBT Work?

Dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive, multifaceted, rigidly structured therapeutic approach that focuses on fostering skills in four core areas also referred to as the four modules which are: core mindfulness (focusing skills), distress tolerance (crisis survival skills), emotional regulation (de-escalation skills), and interpersonal effectiveness (social/ relationship skills). Each module highlights specific skills that build upon each other and are individually and collectively integral to the success of this therapeutic intervention. DBT is carried out in three distinct settings, which include: weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT group skills training therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching between sessions. DBT relies on supportive resources, including handouts, worksheets, and workbooks to further highlight DBT skills that directly relate to topics covered in each DBT group skills training therapy session. 

DBT Benefits

DBT is a therapeutic modality that emphasizes the psychosocial aspect of treatment. According to Behavioral Tech, DBT is effective because it “assumes that many of the problems exhibited by clients are caused by skills deficits, [and] it successfully increases clients’ ability to use effective coping skills, particularly strategies for expressing, experiencing, and regulating intense emotions.” Some of the benefits of DBT include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Significantly reduces hospital stays, self-injurious behaviors, and the severity of borderline personality disorder symptoms.
  • Increases self-worth and self-respect.
  • Improves in emotion regulation.
  • Reduces experiential avoidance.
  • Minimizes assertive anger.
  • As an added layer of support, participants have twenty-four-hour access to their clinician through the phone coaching component, should crisis arise or for in the moment guidance during times of struggle.
  • The weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions offer participants an emotionally safe environment to begin to implement the DBT skills alongside other people working on similar issues.
  • As an evidence-based treatment, DBT extends beyond mental health illness and enhances individuals’ quality of life.

The American Psychological Association (APA) explains that DBT “establishes a ‘dialectic’ between helping individuals to accept the reality of their lives and their own behaviors on the one hand and helping them learn to change their lives, including dysfunctional behaviors, on the other.” Dialectical behavior therapy aims to teach individuals healthy coping mechanisms and useful techniques for managing stress, regulating emotions, and improving relationships with others.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

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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