What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)?
DBT is based on the more traditional CBT, in that it similarly emphasises the thinking-feeling-behaviour connection. However, DBT has been specifically developed for people who experience emotions very intensely and may consequently struggle to behave in a helpful way.
‘Dialectical’ means working toward understanding how two things that seem opposite could both be true. For example, accepting yourself and changing your behaviour might seem contradictory, but it is possible!
DBT usually covers 4 key modules, each with their own skill set:
Mindfulness – Mindfulness involves training yourself to pay attention to what’s happening right now, and without judgement. This includes whatever you may be thinking or feeling in any given moment. The idea is that when we are thinking about the future a lot (especially what may go wrong), we tend to experience high levels of anxiety. Equally, thinking a lot about the past (especially what you think should or should not have happened), can lead to us feeling sad, guilty, regretful and angry. Mindfulness encourages us to learn to focus on the present in an accepting manner to improve your wellbeing.
Distress Tolerance – This component aims to provide you a with a series of techniques to use when you are experiencing difficult emotions. They are particularly helpful short-term ways of coping with strong and overwhelming feelings.
Emotion Regulation – These strategies are designed to help you deal with difficult situations, thoughts and feelings in the longer term, such as problem solving, identifying and challenging unhelpful thoughts.
Interpersonal Effectiveness – This module is focused on developing skills for social interactions. It includes learning how to ask for help and say no to others, as well as other assertiveness skills.
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