Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavior therapy with which people are treated who are diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder (BPD). Developed by Marsha Linehan in the late 80s for chronically suicidal patients with BPD, DBT has been brought to the Netherlands in 1995. Since its development it has been extensively researched, which has shown that it is effective for a wide range of other disorders. It is the best researched psychosocial ambulant treatment for BPS.
‘It’s not a Suicide Prevention Program, it’s a Life Worth Living program.’ (Linehan)
DBT supports in developing confidence and learning another way of thinking, which makes life more bearable. And DBT works together with the client to try out new skills and stay motivated.
Elements of DBT
- DBT skills training: behaviour skills are taught and practiced
- Individual DBT therapy: focuses on strengthening the motivation of the client to apply the skills in daily life.
- DBT telephone consultation: to support the client in applying the skills during a difficult situation.
- DBT therapists consultation team: helps therapists to stay motivated and keep competent.
Skills that clients learn
- Mindfulness: bring ’emotional mind’ and ‘rational mind’ into balance, in order to come to ‘wise mind’.
- Interpersonal effectiveness: ask what someone needs, be able to say no, and be able to deal with interpersonal conflicts.
- Emotion regulation: understand emotions, decrease emotional vulnerability and emotional suffering.
- Distress tolerance: accepting of yourself and the situation on a non-evaluating and non-judgmental manner.
Target group – Borderline disorder
A borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterised by 3 things: a pattern of emotional instability, impulsive and reckless behaviour, and interpersonal instability (having trouble with relationships and insecurity about life goals). However, DBT has also been proven effective for a variety of other disorders, such as addiction, depression, PTSD and eating disorders.