What is DBT?
After being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, you may be offered DBT as a treatment – DBT is becoming widely known as a highly effective treatment for people living with BPD.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a form of talking therapy, which is based on CBT but has been adapted to make it more suitable for people who have emotional dysregulation or who feel their emotions very intensely. While some traditional therapies focus on events of the past (which we may not wish to revisit), DBT looks at the here and now, and what we can do in this moment.
It is ideal for people living with conditions like BPD. It’s been used successfully in BPD patients, including those involving extreme emotions, self-harm and suicidal ideation.
Dialectical means that two different thoughts (or beliefs) that seem opposite of each other, can both be true. In DBT, this means that acceptance and changing your behaviour can both be achievable at the same time.
DBT was developed from another talking therapy (which you may also be offered as part of your treatment), CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), and the key element of this is to help you change unhelpful or destructive ways of thinking or behaving.
A large part of DBT is about focusing on you as an individual, and involving you in all aspects of the process – helping you to manage emotions and behaviours, and return to a healthier way of living. It’s important to remember that the most important person in your recovery team is you.
There are four core skills in DBT:
Mindfulness can help you to focus on the present, becoming more away of thoughts, feelings and emotions in the moment. It can help you avoid negative thought patters and behaviours, and help you to stay calm. A good way of looking at it is that mindfulness helps you take hold of your mind, so your mind does not take hold of you.
This is the ability to recognise and accept your intense emotions, such as anger or frustration, without reacting in unhelpful, impulsive or extreme ways. It uses techniques including self-soothing and distraction to help you cope with the intense feelings in the moment.
This is about being able to recognise, label and adjust your emotions as they arise. By being able to better regulate emotions, you will be more able to cope with any intense negative emotions, developing a more positive emotional outlook, and help you solve problems effectively in the long-term.
Helping you to communicate with others effectively, which helps you to foster healthy relationships and end toxic ones. This helps you learn to be more assertive, learn how to say no, deal with challenging people and become a better listener.
We will look into these four areas more in depth as we progress through the course.