What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy that identifies and changes negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioural changes. It’s used to help individuals who are contemplating suicide, and other self-destructive behaviours.  

The objective of the DBT is to balance acceptance of the person exactly as they are, with intense efforts to change the person’s life. During this therapy, a psychologist will work on increasing adaptive functioning and decrease maladaptive behaviour. The goal of this therapy is to help individuals develop and grow, so they can live a healthier, more sustainable life.

The DBT has four main components:

Individual therapy targets any of the individual’s high-priority issues that have arisen since the last therapy session. Also known as behaviour analysis, this therapy helps individuals identify all the factors that led up to the issue, and then determining and practicing new ways of responding in similar situations.  

Skill-training sessions teach individuals specific skills designed to help improve their lives with respect to mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and stress tolerance.  

Individual consultation - Therapists are available between sessions to help clients apply new skills to prevent the use of problematic behaviours.  

Therapist consultation - Finally, the weekly consultation team helps therapists get the support and resources they need to treat suicidal clients. This type of consultation adheres to DBT principles, which helps increase their motivation and adherence to DBT principles.  

Initially developed for individuals suffering from a borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT is now used to treat other issues including eating disorders; suicidal and self-injurious behaviour; treatment-resistant depression, and substance use problems that concur with BPD.

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