DBT stands for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy. It is a therapy based upon Cognitive Behaviour therapy (CBT) that aims to teach people skills to keep their emotions on an even keel and to build a life worth living. It was developed by Dr Marsha Linehan and it is an effective and evidence based treatment in helping people manage overwhelming emotions. It was initially aimed to treat people with Borderline Personality Disorder who experience persistent emotional and behavioural difficulties that interfere with their day to day living.
The skills and coping strategies within DBT come from ideas that already have substantial research and practice to support their use. The idea is to learn skills to replace ineffective behaviours that are possibly harmful and cause us suffering and to address the problems that cause difficulties in how we function in our lives.
DBT therapists teaching the skills use an accepting, non-judgemental, respectful approach in keeping with DBT. Validation is used to help people to try and change and to explore different ways of coping with their emotions and distress. There is a clear structure to the skills work, the skills are taught in a supportive environment and agreed goals are set to help the process of change.
DBT is based on working out Dialectics. Sometimes, when we have a problem we can only see the extremes and miss the middle way of seeing something, we tend to look at things in black and white terms without seeing the grey or middle area. If we only see the extremes we get stuck which leads to suffering.
The DBT skills help us to see that there is some truth in the black and white of a situation and help us to have a more balanced view and consequently help us to change our way of thinking so it is more healthy.