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Mental illness is an umbrella term that encompasses distinct diagnosable mental health ailments, disorders, diseases, and conditions, that involve changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). A mental illness, also referred to as a psychiatric disorder or a mental disorder, is characterized by a “clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior… [and] it is usually associated with distress or impairment in important areas of functioning.” Data presented from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that twenty-one percent of all U.S. adults, which is equal to an estimated 52.9 million adults aged eighteen or older, in America live with AMI (any mental illness). There are a variety of mental health treatment options available to those in need.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is founded on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. DBT is carried out in three distinct therapeutic settings, including weekly individual psychotherapy sessions; weekly DBT skills training group sessions, and access to twenty-four-hour support between sessions via phone coaching. Within each setting, DBT focuses on teaching therapeutic skills that are divided into four modules, which are: core mindfulness (focusing skills), distress tolerance (crisis survival skills), emotion regulation (de-escalation skills), and interpersonal effectiveness (social/ relationship skills). DBT combines standard CBT techniques, psycho-educational modules, and eastern mindfulness-based practices to foster the systematic learning of new emotional coping skills.

Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed DBT in the late 1980s as a therapeutic method specifically geared to treat individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), suffering from pervasive suicidal thoughts and/ or attempts. Borderline personality disorder is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health disorder that is characterized by unpredictable moods and behaviors and a long-term pattern of unstable relationships. DBT remains the gold standard type of psychotherapy used for treating individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder who have thoughts of suicide and self-harm. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has also recognized DBT as an effective method of treatment for a wide range of other mental health disorders, including, but not limited to the following:

Dialectical behavior therapy can be a treatment method that is effective for individuals spanning across a wide age-range, from children as young as six years old to the most senior members of the geriatric community. The purpose of DBT is to teach individuals a variety of adaptive coping skills and effective problem-solving strategies, so they are better able to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. 

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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