Therapy Modalities

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

What is DBT therapy?

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive, evidence-based psychotherapy developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. in the late 1980s. DBT is derived from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but with the added components of acceptance and mindfulness.

The three main goals of DBT are to help individuals to practice presence (live in the moment), increase distress tolerance (which includes learning how to better regulate emotions and developing healthier coping mechanisms for painful emotions), and improve their relationship with others.

Core components of DBT therapy to achieve these three goals include helping clients confront their reality and accept their reality, reflect on their behaviors and establish healthier patterns of behavior, reflect on their thought patterns and establish more functional, adaptive thought patterns, develop relational collaboration and engagement skills, learn new self-regulation tools and develop more relational skills in general. 

How does DBT therapy actually work?

DBT is often a phased psychotherapy approach, meaning a therapist and client will first focus on stabilizing the client and any self-destructive behaviors that are occurring before moving on to further skills development. 

After stabilization, DBT treatment will then include a focus on changing patterns of behavior and developing skills to support clients to better regulate their emotions, have more successful interpersonal relationships, and cultivate greater self-esteem.

As with most trauma treatment therapies, after the initial goals of stabilization and fundamental skills development and behavioral change have been achieved, DBT will then support clients in making meaning in their lives and taking steps to have a fulfilling, enriched life. 

Each session between a DBT therapist and client will look different depending on what phase of treatment is happening. Sessions informed by DBT therapy may include dynamic, experiential exercises such as practicing mindfulness skills, being taught pneumonic acronyms and communications to support healthy responses in relational conflicts, teaching a toolbox of skills for emotional dysregulation, and more. DBT might also involve homework in between sessions to help solidify and establish newly learned skills.

Why is DBT therapy effective at treating trauma?

DBT was originally developed to treat patients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, a disorder with a strong and researched correlation to childhood abuse. As such, foundationally, the components of DBT are very effective as a trauma treatment modality regardless of the manifestation of the symptoms of the lived-through trauma experience. 

The foundational components of DBT focus on self-destructive behavior stabilization, development of more emotional regulation, strengthening distress tolerance, and skills development for interpersonal effectiveness – all of which are common psychological and developmental areas that can be impaired for most people who experience developmental trauma/early childhood trauma. 

As such, DBT is a highly effective trauma treatment modality. 

FAQ’s about DBT:

Will a therapist only use DBT in our therapy together? Or will they use other interventions?

Here at Evergreen, our therapists customize interventions for every therapy session. What this means is that, even if your therapist is trained in DBT and uses it to help treat your case, they will likely draw from other interventions and methodologies to help achieve your clinical goals, too.

Since DBT was developed for Borderline Personality Disorder does that mean that if a therapist uses it with me I have BPD?

No, not at all. As mentioned above, DBT’s foundational components are nearly universally applicable and supportive to anyone who has experienced early developmental trauma, not to mention more recent adult traumas and stressors. A DBT-trained therapist may pull from their DBT clinical interventions to support you no matter what your clinical diagnosis and presenting issues are simply because the interventions are incredibly helpful and supportive.

How long will it take to treat my issues with DBT?

It’s not possible to guesstimate how long clinical treatment will take without insight into your case. That’s why it’s best to schedule a complimentary 20-minute consult call with our clinical intake coordinator to get matched to a great fitting therapist who can offer more insight into your question about the treatment timeline after they get to know you, your case, and your goals better.

What if I’m Not Ready?

If you don’t feel quite ready to book a complimentary consult call yet, that’s completely fine.

We don’t want you to feel pressured and we know that the choice to seek out therapy can feel difficult.

Part of you wants to do it, and another part of you is, perhaps, scared to begin because of the feelings you might have to finally feel.

Or a part of you questions whether or not you can even be helped at all.

Whatever the reason, no matter how ready or not ready you feel to begin therapy, we want you to have the information you need to make an informed choice.

So, to that end, please explore the additional information below to learn more about us and how we can help you.

We’ll be here whenever you’re ready to reach out for support.

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