Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a cognitive-behavioral-based treatment developed by Marsha Linehan for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. However, DBT has been found to be effective amongst individuals who struggle with significant emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and/or interpersonal dysregulation. Individuals who struggle with dysregulation are likely to have problems with intense anger, severe impulsivity, engage in suicidality, self-injurious behaviors, chronically make poor decisions, and significant mood instability that is intense though not long-lasting.
It incorporates cognitive-behavioral techniques over four basic modules: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. After each module, there is a return to mindfulness principles. DBT also teaches core elements of behaviorism such as reinforcement, punishment, and extinction. While there is a formal manual for DBT, its individual skills can be used to teach coping skills for PTSD, substance abuse, eating disorders, general anxiety, depression, anger management, conflict resolution, and other types of conditions.
I personally have utilized DBT both in inpatient and outpatient settings and with various populations from veterans and former athletes with traumatic brain injuries, to developmentally disabled and severely behavioral in community mental health to women who are incarcerated with various mental health conditions beyond Borderline Personality Disorder and antisocial behaviors. I have been practicing DBT for individual and group settings since 2016. As a new therapist with Heron Ridge, I have already begun implementing these skills with some of the clients I work with. Mind, DBT is not a “fix all”; for example, it can be detrimental to arm an individual with particular antisocial traits with certain skills and does not sufficiently address other conditions such as OCD and bipolar disorder. That’s not to say DBT is *not* helpful in those instances, just should not be the primary mode of therapy.
It is my hope to one day host a DBT group for the community following Linehan’s (2015) manual. In the meantime, I am quite open to taking clients with Borderline Personality Disorder, or similar traits, as well as those with histories of trauma. I am happy to provide more information about DBT and/or Borderline Personality Disorder in the future if need be. Thank you!
Written By: Imani Byrd, MS, TLLP