Even if you have heard of Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT), there is a good chance you may not have a full picture of what goes on in DBT work. There is a veil of mystery and negative stigmas surrounding most forms of therapy. Let’s learn a bit more about DBT so that you can feel confident and informed while making strides toward better mental health.
What is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)?
You may have heard of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) before. Both CBT and DBT are common forms of talk therapy. Essentially, DBT is a form of CBT in which you focus on your emotions and how you relate to them, rather than on how your thoughts influence your worldview. When working in DBT, you will begin to work on regulating your emotions, mindfulness, and eventually, radical acceptance.
DBT was initially created to serve those with borderline personality disorder, but it is incredibly effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions. There are two main ways DBT is practiced: individually, with a trained professional, and in a group setting. Before deciding which option is best for you, let’s first discuss the differences between each.
Individual DBT work
When you imagine therapy, you likely think of a one-on-one session with a therapist. This is exactly what individual DBT is. First, you and your therapist will decide on a plan to decide how often you should meet and what your main concerns are. From there, your therapist will draw an assessment to point out what they believe your serious needs are so that you can begin to evaluate them together.
Once you have decided what needs immediate attention, you will then begin to develop the necessary skills to transform your life. Although you may only practice individual DBT, it is quite common for individuals to work in DBT groups as well, which we will explore next.
Group DBT work
Contrary to popular belief, DBT groups are not sessions in which all members do an emotional “dump.” Rather, this is an opportunity for those who practice individual DBT to work on the skills they learn there in a group as well.
Group DBT is less like a traditional therapy session and more like a class where you will learn valuable tools to engage in better DBT practices. This way, you can take a better look at the techniques you learn in individual therapy and work on them in more lifelike scenarios with your peers.
Exploring radical acceptance
You have probably heard of the term “radical acceptance” before. As a term coined in the early 1990s when DBT first originated, radical acceptance refers to the idea that ugly, painful moments are a part of life that cannot be changed, but our thoughts surrounding it can be. The idea that you can overcome the emotional response to a triggering experience and view it calmly and logically is a core principle of DBT. Resisting what you cannot change will develop an internal struggle to avoid and deny the reality of a difficult situation. Radical acceptance makes a conscience effort to acknowledge and honor past difficult experiences which helps bring meaning to those experiences.
Challenges with radical acceptance
Although this may sound like a great and easy idea in practice, plenty of roadblocks pop up when attempting to achieve radical acceptance. Many do not wish to be complacent and “accept” situations they feel are unjust or simply not okay. However, once you can fully lean into radical acceptance, you will find that your emotional regulation will be stronger and you will live in the present moment more fully.
When it comes down to it, working on effective DBT in any form will benefit you and your mental health. Please feel free to reach out to us today to learn more about DBT. Together, we can explore your options and decide which pathway is best for you and your mental health.