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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Inspirations for Youth now offers DBT for its teens in recovery

What is DBT?

DBT is an advanced derivation of Cognitive Behavior Therapy that was originally developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD).  DBT integrates concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness. The therapy was mainly derived from Buddhist meditative practice with cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotional regulation and reality-testing.

The first step in DBT is to create a climate of unconditional acceptance, which is followed by identifying the need for a true commitment to treatment from patients, who also need to be willing to accept their dire level of emotional dysfunction.

The DBT approach emphasizes a strong patient-therapist relationship, with the therapist being seen as an ally rather than an adversary throughout the course of treatment. The DBT therapist sincerely accepts and validates the client’s feelings at any given time, while simultaneously helping the client realize that some feelings and behaviors are maladaptive. The therapists then proceeds to teach them healthier alternatives. The program asks the teen and the adults in recovery to systematically record their feeling on DBT diary cards.

DBT is an intensive and experiential curriculum for adults to build:

  • Mindfulness – Focus the mind and develop self-awareness
  • Distress tolerance – Reduces impulsiveness
  • Emotional Regulation – Reduce emotional intensity
  • Interpersonal Relationships – Keep relationships steady and fulfill emotional needs

This therapy component follows a treatment target hierarchy: 

  • The highest priority on this hierarchy is always self-injurious and suicidal behaviors
  • Second in priority are behaviors that interfere with the course of treatment, referred to as therapy-interfering behaviors
  • Third in priority is the improvement of the patient’s general quality of life

Individual therapy provides a safe environment for the therapist and patient to work towards improving DBT skills use.

Main Components of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
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