Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was first introduced in the late 1980s. Marsha Linehan’s Text and workbooks were introduced to therapists who struggle to make and maintain progress with hard to reach clients. Many of these clients come from backgrounds of significant neglect. I have been applying the different parts of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT,  since my first training in 2005.

In a nut-shell, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy provides individuals with coping skills that help them to be more capable of achieving their goals. These parts include skill groups which are referred to as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation. Each of these parts is essential to the whole practice of DBT.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can help people to advocate for themselves, to communicate feelings and needs in a way that *most* individuals will be receptive to hearing. It can help individuals management of their emotions. This is essential when letting their emotions run their actions would actually act against their goals. It can also help in reducing the sense of chaos or urgency that can lead to impulsive decision making that can result in regrets, rejection, and shame.

I have heard Dialectical Behavioral Therapy referred to as “CBT with a whip.” I’ve seen huge changes made with this therapy.  Individuals who had tried and not achieved well being in traditional therapy did find success in DBT. It can be transformative. It also takes a lot, a whole lot, of commitment to the skills and to letting go of past coping strategies that “worked” in the short term, but created more problems.

To illustrate this idea, consider an example: Jane went on a vacation with her 4 friends. During their week together, Jane was the force behind everything they did. She guarded her itinerary and time management and aggressively advocated against activities she felt were a waste. At the end of the trip she was pleased to have crossed everything off her list. Following the vacation, she was frustrated and confused by the lack of responsiveness from her friends. Her attempts to connect weren’t met with warmth or enthusiasm. She felt betrayed the next year when she discovered this same group of friends did not include her in their vacation plans.

If you or someone you know could benefit from Dialectical Behavior Therapy, feel free to contact our intake team at Specialized Therapy Associates at 201-488-6678.