DBT was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington, Seattle, in the late 80’s to help better treat people with personality disorders. People with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) find it difficult to change their intense emotional responses without help even in the knowledge that their actions and behaviors are causing them social and psychological problems. Borderline Personality Disorder also seems to be a risk factor for other comorbid psychological conditions such as Substance Abuse, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Depression, and Bipolar Disorder.
Signs of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
- Intense emotions and mood swings.
- Harmful, impulsive behaviors. This may include binge eating, risky sexual behavior, and reckless driving.
- Pervasive pattern of relationship problems: difficulties making and maintaining stable relationships
- A frantic fear of being left alone (abandoned).
- Aggressive behavior that may include physical fights and violent temper tantrums.
- Chronic feelings of emptiness.
- Self-harm behaviors such as cutting, burning, or picking.
- Suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts.
- Dissociative symptoms or stress-related paranoia.
How can DBT help?
The goal of DBT is to teach patients the skills they need to deal with stress, control their emotional responses, and develop effective relationships within the context of their daily lives. Each module of DBT is designed to treat the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder.
- DBT balances specific techniques of acceptance and validation with techniques of problem solving to learn more adaptive ways of dealing with difficulties.
- The therapy is behavioral in that it focuses on present behavior and the factors controlling that behavior without dwelling on the past.
- Mindfulness skills are derived from certain techniques of Buddhist meditation. However, there is no religious affiliation to the application. The acquisition of this skill enables one to become more clearly aware of the contents of experience and to develop the ability to stay with that experience in the present moment.
- Emotion Regulation skills are ways of understanding and changing distressing emotional states rather than being led by them.
- Distress Tolerance skills include techniques for learning how to deal with emotional states effectively.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness improves communication style, teaches how to set appropriate boundaries, and maintain self-esteem in interactions with others.