Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) (Linehan) is a therapeutic model for people who struggle to experience intense, erratic emotions and is often recommended for people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)/ Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).
A person is diagnosed with BPD if they experience difficulties regulating emotions or feel emotions very strongly, find relationships often painful and problematic, lack a sense of a stable identity and who often engage in risky or very harmful behaviours. People with BPD often report experiencing emptiness and anxiety about being rejected or abandoned by the people they love.
In its purest form, DBT is designed to consist of individual therapy sessions and group based sessions. However, DBT can be used as a model to inform solely individual therapy and I do offer it in this form to clients.
So what is DBT?
DBT is, like CBT, a collaborative, structured model where clients are encouraged to focus on four elements of experience (thoughts, feelings, body sensations and behaviour).
The Dialectic refers to holding at once the paradoxical concept of acceptance and change so the therapist uses validation and empathy to encourage acceptance as well as promoting change and self development.
A key concept of DBT is mindfulness and learning to be aware of the present moment which helps with acceptance and also distress tolerance (learning to regulate emotions).
Clients are also taught skills around managing emotions and relationships with others.