Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Offered at Lenape Valley Foundation for Adults and Teens ages 14-17

What is DBT?

  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy developed in the late 1980s by Marsha M. Linehan to help better treat borderline personality disorder. Since its development, it has also been used for the treatment of other kinds of mental health disorders.
  • The “D” means “dialectical.” A dialectic is a synthesis or integration of opposites. In DBT, dialectical strategies help both the therapist and the client get unstuck from extreme positions.
  • The “B” stands for “behavioral.” DBT requires a behavioral approach. This means that we assess the situations and target behaviors that are relevant to our clients’ goals in order to figure out how to solve the problems in their lives.

Components of DBT Skills Training.

  • Core Mindfulness Skills
    Mindfulness skills in DBT come from the eastern spiritual traditions. These skills help members focus on the present and attend to what is happening in the here and now in a calm way. It helps people slow down and focus on doing what is needed to care for oneself in the moment. Members learn the value of wise mind instead of succumbing to intense emotions and acting in a destructive way.
  • Distress Tolerance Skills
    Distress tolerance helps people get through difficult times when emotions are running high. It teaches people to soothe themselves in healthy ways when they are feeling upset rather than becoming overwhelmed by emotions or hiding from them. This allows individuals to make wise decisions about whether and how to take action, rather than falling into the intense, desperate and often-destructive emotional reactions.
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
    Interpersonal effectiveness skills involve helping people understand what their needs are in their relationships and helps develop effective ways of dealing with others in order to get one’s wants or needs met in a healthy way. This involves respecting the self and others, listening and communicating effectively, dealing with difficult people, repairing relationships and being able to say no.
  • Emotion Regulation Skills
    The DBT emotion regulation skills help people understand their emotions. It teaches people to decrease the intensity of their feelings and helps them ride out strong emotions without acting on them. It provides education about the function of emotions and how to not be swamped by them.

How is the Therapy Structured?

  • Skills are taught in 2-hour group sessions meeting once a week.
  • LVF currently has three daytime groups on Mondays and Thursdays and one evening group on Mondays. DBT group is also offered in Bristol during the day on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
  • Weekly individual therapy targets problem behaviors and uses skills to solve them.
  • All clients in DBT must have a DBT therapist and may not be seeing any other therapist during DBT treatment.
  • Minimum commitment is 6 months, but clients may commit to an additional 6 months.
  • Clients may not miss more than 4 consecutive group or individual sessions.

Clients Who Experience the Following can Benefit From DBT:

  • Over-control of emotions
  • Under-control of emotions
  • Lability
  • Extreme anger
  • Extreme shame
  • Extreme guilt
  • Extreme sadness
  • Suicide attempts
  • Suicide threats
  • Suicide ideation/thoughts/plans
  • Cutting, burning, SIB
  • Alcohol abuse/dependence
  • Substance abuse/dependence
  • Binging/purging/restricting food
  • Gambling/shoplifting
  • Overspending
  • Poor choices in relationships

Click here to download a helpful PDF with answers to frequently asked questions about DBT >

For more information, contact Lori Lamont at Lori.Lamont@Lenapevf.org

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