Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) causes people to have difficulty in maintaining stable relationships, lack self-control, and feel paranoia. No one knows the cause, but it is rooted in genetic, biological, environmental, and social factors. Here’s how this type of treatment can help.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) causes people to have difficulty in maintaining stable relationships, lack self-control, and feel paranoia. No one knows the cause, but it is rooted in genetic, biological, environmental, and social factors. Here's how Dialectical Behavior Therapy can help. This DBT Therapy is a therapy that is given to those who have the borderline personality disorder.
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The Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral therapy that is given to those who have a borderline personality disorder. It operates within a framework of a dialectical model that balances opposites such as acceptance and change. It primarily focuses on acceptance-based strategies and problem-solving. Often, patients with BPD are described as “difficult to treat.” Stacey Freedenthal, PhD, LCSW said, “The diagnosis of “borderline personality disorder” carries a profound stigma for many people. Even some mental health professionals use such term pejoratively, which is not difficult considering that a diagnosis itself implies that someone’s personality is flawed.”

How The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Works

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Dialectical behavioral therapy was initially intended for those who are suicidal and have extreme emotional issues. Because of this, treatment happens in stages.

Treatment Stage 1: Gain Self-Control

The first stage of dialectical behavior therapy focuses on achieving some self-control over intense emotions such as anger. John M. Grohol, Psy.D. says, “An angry person is also a person who is less able to hear and react to others in an empathetic, helpful way. Instead, when we’re angry, we tend to shut down, put our defenses up, and answer back in a way that can be hurtful or uncaring.” People in the first stage must learn not to react impulsively or do things that can harm themselves or others. Thus, this treatment begins with crisis intervention and safety.

Treatment Stage 2. Address Emotions

The second stage aims to recognize, label, and adjust one’s emotions. It is essential for those who have borderline personality disorder not to bury or hide their emotional pain; instead, surface and explore them safely.

Treatment Stage 3. Improve Relationships And Self-Esteem

During the third stage, patients must become more aware of themselves and the people around them, and be attentive to the present moment. They must enhance their quality of life by being happy and stable. Building one’s self-esteem requires help from other people as they can vouch for and contribute to this process. Self-talk in increasing confidence, however, will not work as much since a person with borderline personality disorder would rely on much and believe others’ perceptions more than their own.

Treatment Stage 4. Promote Joy and Connection

At the final stage, patients must learn how to interact with others assertively and can navigate conflicts. Its goal is to up-level patients’ lives by maintaining their happiness and success. Clinical Psychologist and relationship expert Molly Gasbarrini, Ph.D. explains, “We should examine the inextricable role that self-love plays in any and all human connection.”

What To Expect In This Therapy

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Dialectical behavior therapy treatment consists of skills group and individual treatment sessions. For the individual treatment sessions, the patients meet a trained therapist one-on-one. This is to ensure all therapeutic needs are being addressed. Through this, the patients stay motivated, as they apply skills into daily life, and solve problems that may surface over the period of treatment.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group

On the other hand, this treatment’s skills group provides opportunities to learn and practice skills alongside other people who have a borderline personality disorder. Each of them is encouraged to share life experiences with the group and is expected to provide mutual support to each other. They will be led by their therapist who will oversee leading exercises and teaching new skills. Homework, such as practicing mindfulness exercises is given to all group members. During the course of this treatment, they will meet in six months, every week, and approximately two hours every group session.