1 SepWhat Can Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Help With? by Dr. Konstantin Lukin, Ph.D. Have your thoughts and emotions been affecting your life in significant ways? If so, you’re not alone. Thoughts affect our emotions and our behavior in more ways than most people realize or understand. In fact, thoughts and emotions can directly affect your physiology. And without the ability to keep your emotions in check, your body and mind could suffer. But the good news is you have help! Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a tool used by many psychologists and psychiatrists in clinical settings to help patients understand and cope with intense thoughts and emotions. And if you’re experiencing deep or intense emotions regularly, this form of therapy may be able to help you understand how your thoughts can affect your emotions and your behavior – and give you the tools to correct them. Need help creating emotional balance in your life? Contact us at the Lukin Center for Psychotherapy to schedule an appointment today. What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? The term “dialectical” refers to combining and utilizing opposite ideas. For example, the dialectical method is often employed in philosophical and political circles in order to establish truth within reasoned argumentation. In clinical psychology settings, DBT allows a patient to accept the reality of their lives and their actions as well as illuminating ways that patients can change their lives – specifically by changing unhelpful thoughts or behaviors. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is considered “talk therapy” and can be administered either individually or in group settings – largely depending on your preference and your therapist’s evaluation. Additionally, DBT is considered to be extremely helpful for those who have trouble coping with complex thoughts and emotions. One great aspect of DBT is that it can be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions including (but not limited to) the following: Suicidal thoughts and self-harm Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Borderline personality disorder (BPD) Substance abuse disorder Eating disorders Anxiety Depression If you’ve been experiencing intense emotional responses to thoughts on a regular basis, DBT therapists can provide relatable talk therapy designed to help you understand and employ healthier ways to cope with intense, negative emotions. How Does Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Work? Though the structure and outline of DBT will vary, a universal goal of dialectical behavior therapists is to enable you to have balance between accepting who you are, accepting your struggles, and implementing the benefits of change. Overall, this therapy gives you greater insight into the tools available to help improve your own emotional regulation. As mentioned, DBT can be utilized in individual or group settings. And your therapist may ask that you take an assessment to determine if you’re comfortable with group sessions – or if an individual program would be best for you. Individual Therapy With individual Dialectical behavior therapy, you’ll likely have regular weekly sessions with your therapist that may last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour in length. And as with all therapy sessions, there are specific goals that each session is designed to address. Individual DBT goals may be customized by your therapist to meet your needs, but often they include the following: Teaching new skills to replace or reduce unhelpful thoughts and behavior Limiting behavior that can impede productive therapy Supporting you in reaching personal goals Assisting in improving your overall quality of life Addressing blockers that can impede your progress in therapy Keeping you safe by helping to reduce thoughts of self-harm or suicide During individual therapy, you’ll also likely be encouraged to document your emotions and behavior in a journal or diary. And your journal may be referenced prior to each session in order to help your therapist identify emerging patterns as you reach goals and complete therapy. Group Therapy When you think of a group setting, you may envision a process that involves discussion with others as in a typical group therapy session. But DBT group settings are often more of a classroom setting in which you’ll learn skills aimed to enhance your ability to cope with daily life. Group sessions are often constructed to meet the needs of everyone within the group, and you may be given instruction on a few tools that you can use to help recognize and deal with your emotions as they arise. A few of the skills you may learn in a group session include the following: Emotional regulation skills Mindfulness practice skills Interpersonal communication skills Stress tolerance skills Though group therapy can vary, you’ll be instructed on a variety of tools and skills that you can use and develop as you progress through therapy and engage with day-to-day life. Is DBT Right for You? Perhaps the most common question for anyone seeking therapy is to ask why it would be beneficial. With Dialectical Behavior Therapy, you may want to ask yourself a few questions to see if this form of therapy will suit your needs. For example, if intense emotions often interfere with your relationships, your goals, or with work, school, or other personal endeavors, this can be a sign that DBT might be right for you. However, there are a few more factors that – if applicable – would make you a good candidate for DBT: You often have regular struggles with identity or a feeling of being lost You have long-lasting mood swings (those lasting longer than 3 days) You have regular feelings of hopelessness You feel that you have no purpose You regularly think about suicide You regularly think about harming yourself You have issues with anger management No challenge is insurmountable. And while a feeling of hopelessness or of being lost can be challenging, just know that you don’t have to go through any of this alone. Therapists who specialize in DBT can offer you the skills and tools that you need to meet the challenges of the day head-on. But most importantly, you’ll learn how to understand and recognize your thoughts and emotions as they arise – giving you the power to change your mind, and your life. Questions to Consider If you’re still considering if DBT is right for you, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to pre-determine if DBT would be beneficial. Consider the following questions: Do people call you out on unhealthy or negative behavior often? Do you have difficulty maintaining friendships or relationships? Do you have frequent arguments or conflicts with close family or friends? Does your mood change at the drop of a dime? Do you consider yourself emotionally unavailable? Are you ever in fear of your emotions? Do you “hate” your thoughts? Do you ever have a feeling of not knowing who you really are? Do you suffer from action/decision paralysis where you’re afraid to make a decision or take action? If you can relate to any of the questions listed above, reaching out to a therapist to explore DBT may be a great decision, and your first step on the road to recovery. Seeking Help Meeting with a DBT therapist is as easy as reaching out and explaining how you feel. And though therapy can be a big and scary step, admitting that you need help is a necessary step before recovery can ever be possible. No matter where you’re at in life, whether you’re in the prime of your career, or even if you’re gearing up to attend college for the first time, dialectical behavioral therapy can be useful in allowing you the space to tame your thoughts and your emotions. And once you’re able to understand and control this process, you’ll likely begin to see the benefits manifest in your daily life. If you think you could benefit from dialectical behavioral therapy and would like to know more, contact the experts at Lukin Center for Psychotherapy today.