What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?
Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., designed Dialectical Behavior Therapy in the early 1990’s. It was developed to help people who have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and who experience intense emotions and are at a high risk of harming themselves. Many studies over the past 25 years indicate that DBT can also benefit a variety of mental health disorders. The name Borderline Personality Disorder is often misleading and is better characterized as an emotion dysregulation disorder. People diagnosed with BPD may experience frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, unstable and intense relationships, identity disturbance, impulsivity, recurrent suicidal behavior, affective instability, chronic feelings of emptiness, intense anger, and dissociation.
DBT is an intensive therapy that offers participants weekly therapy sessions, skills training classes, and access to 24-hour phone coaching. The DBT Team consists of licensed therapists, case coordinators, and a peer support. Team members participate in annual training and ongoing consultation to ensure fidelity to the model. DBT therapists are also trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy Prolonged Exposure, which is a treatment designed to address PTSD and trauma.
DBT helps participants to better manage their life by teaching ways to:
- Cope with strong emotions
- Handle conflict in relationships
- Manage distressing thoughts, urges, and behaviors
- Prevent and learn how to survive through life crises
- Learn to live in the present moment