Why do we use Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
When treating clinical patients, there are a variety of effective therapeutic approaches acknowledged by the health community. One such treatment method that stands out is known as DBT: Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Meredith O’Brien and her counseling team in New Jersey specialize in this type of psychotherapy, widely known amongst professionals to be extremely successful in treating various mental illnesses and disabilities. So, why do we use Dialectical Behavior Therapy, who is it for, and when should it be considered over other approaches?
What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) treatment is a type of psychotherapy — or talk therapy — that utilizes a cognitive-behavioral approach to emphasize the psychosocial aspects of treatment. The theory behind the approach is that some people are prone to react in a more intense and out-of-the-ordinary manner toward certain emotional situations, and that their arousal levels in such situations can increase far more quickly than the average person’s, attain a higher level of emotional stimulation, and take a significant amount of time to return to baseline arousal levels. Comprehensive DBT focuses on four ways to enhance life skills:
- Distress tolerance: Feeling intense emotions like anger without reacting impulsively or using self-injury or substance abuse to dampen distress.
- Emotion regulation: Recognizing, labeling, and adjusting emotions.
- Mindfulness: Becoming more aware of self and others and attentive to the present moment.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: Navigating conflict and interacting assertively.
Treatment plans typically consists of individual DBT sessions and DBT skills groups. Individual therapy sessions consist of one-on-one contact with a trained therapist, ensuring that all therapeutic needs are being addressed, while DBT skills groups then offer an environment in which participants can learn and practice skills alongside others.
Who Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy For?
Dialectical Behavior Therapy focuses on high-risk, “tough-to-treat” patients, often with multiple diagnoses. Although DBT was initially designed to treat people with suicidal behavior and borderline personality disorder, research shows that it has been successful in treating other mental health problems that threaten a person’s safety, relationships, work, and emotional well-being such as depression, bulimia, binge-eating, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic-stress disorder, and substance abuse.
O’Brien’s private practice has had years of experience working with DBT for children, adolescents, families and adults with varying degrees of mental health, providing individual, family and group counseling for adolescents and adults, using DBT to help those who wish to improve their ability to regulate emotions, tolerate distress and negative emotion, be mindful and present in the given moment, and communicate and interact effectively with others.
Why Dialectical Behavior Therapy Over Other Approaches?
DBT has proven for many years to be highly effective in treating patients with mental health disorders from mild to severe. The American Psychiatric Association has even endorsed it as one of the most effective methods in treating borderline personality disorder. Patients who undergo DBT have seen improvements such as:
- less frequent and less severe suicidal behavior
- shorter hospitalizations
- less anger
- less likely to drop out of treatment
- and improved social functioning
The skills taught via DBT are intended to maximize the chances that a person’s goals in a specific situation will be met, while at the same time not damaging either the relationship or the person’s self-respect. Most approaches to mental health treatment focus on changing distressing events and circumstances. Where they have fallen short in attention to accepting, finding meaning for, and tolerating distress, dialectical behavior therapy emphasizes learning to bear pain skillfully.
DBT assumes that effective treatment must pay as much attention to the behavior and experience of providers working with clients as it does to clients’ behavior and experience. Thus, when seeking help, clients should look for a mental health professional with specialized training and experience in DBT, who knows basic behavior therapy techniques and DBT treatment strategies. Meredith O’Brien is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey with advanced training certificate in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Following the DBT treatment module, Meredith and her team provide individual therapy sessions in a nurturing environment to help clients to achieve treatment goals, as well as offer DBT Skills Groups to strengthen treatment. To schedule your appointment with Meredith today, visit www.meredithobrienlcsw.com.