Why Does DBT Work for People Affected by BPD?
One of the things most people with BPD suffer with is the extreme emotions, which are much more intense than someone without BPD might feel, and can lead to reckless, impulsive or dangerous behaviours, poor self-image and persistent mood swings.
DBT works for BPD because it helps you to develop new skills and behaviours that will help you to control emotional dysregulation and, in turn, self-destructive or harmful behaviour. The focus is learning to understand accept feelings that you may find overwhelming, upsetting or difficult.
For people with BPD, reacting to our emotions can cause a lot of damage to ourselves and the people around us – whether physical or emotional damage. When caught in a spiral of overwhelming or intense emotions, it is difficult to try and change the emotion. DBT teaches us how to use mindfulness to detach from the emotion we are feeling momentarily, allow us a moment to think straight, and prevent us from acting impulsively or recklessly.
A key part of DBT is learning to understand yourself and your emotions and behaviours, and make more sense of why you might do things such as reckless behaviours, self-harm, suicidal ideation or substance mis-use.
A combination of the four key elements is used to help you understand your feelings and behaviours, and learn how to change them.
Being able to understand yourself, and why you do what you do, is key to accepting what is going on, and a solid foundation to begin managing and changing negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours.
DBT is a more person-centred therapy, requiring you to actively participate in your treament, which in turn allows you to have more control over your care. This can be vital in your recovery journey – you aren’t being told that your behaviour is wrong, you are working out why you are behaving that way and then learning how to change it.
DBT isn’t easy, and the idea of delving into your emotions and feelings may scare you, but the process is worth it and will give you skills that you can carry forward into your recovery journey.
You may have tried other therapies in the past that worked or didn’t work for you, but DBT approaches recovery from a different angle, giving you a structure to work within, giving you tools and coping skills to help you – not just during therapy sessions, but also in everyday life.
It helps you to create some space between your difficult emotions, and the actions that may result from them.