Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is an amazing approach to psychotherapy and an incredibly useful set of skills.
In DBT, we explore how individuals who are more emotionally sensitive sometimes grow up in invalidating families. Rather than learning how to control or regulate emotions, some people in these environments learn
how to be controlled by their emotions. This can leed to very unstable interpersonal relationships and chaotic lifestyles.
DBT involves learning mindfulness in order to observe and describe our experiences rather than to get totally caught up in them. This is like standing next to a storm observing it, rather than being blown up into it. Sometimes, though, we are all going to get caught up in a storm of some sort or another, though. When this happens, being able to ride that storm out without making anything worse- by harming ourselves, using substances, destroying important relationship, or causing other long-term damage in our lives- is an amazing and important thing to do. In DBT, we call this distress-tolerance. When we learn that emotions are unmanageable, we want to run from them or fight them. When we do this, or emotions just chase us or fight back. The DBT skill emotion regulation teaches us how to work with our emotions, instead. Emotions are often there to give us important information. When we can be willing to listen to that information, we can make more effective choices. DBT also teaches us how to ask more effectively for what we need as well as learning to to say no to requests from others. We call this interpersonal effectiveness.