Dialectical Behavior Therapy | Evolve Counseling Services | Fort Collins

Dialectical Behavior Therapy: The Basics

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a counseling framework that is being utilized more and more by clinicians to treat a variety of mental health concerns. In my practice, I use DBT as a compliment to Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (see Aug 2019 for an overview of CBT). DBT contains 4 core skills that are designed to help people operate from a place of logic while simultaneously honoring the emotions they are experiencing. Below is a brief overview of the 4 core skills.

1.) Distress Tolerance

We all experience crises in our lives that produce intense emotions. When our emotions are escalated, we run the risk of engaging in destructive behavior. How many of us have done something dangerous when we were upset or said something we regret to a person we care about? Distress tolerance is all about recognizing our emotional escalation and engaging in distracting activities to stop the progression. The goal of distress tolerance is to endure the crisis, let the emotion die down, and not do anything that may make the situation worse.

2.) Mindfulness

Our brain likes to time travel to past memories or thoughts about the future. Unfortunately, many of these thoughts are negative, critical, and stressful which produce feelings of depression and anxiety. The vast majority of the time, the present moment we are experiencing right now is neutral, if not positive. Mindfulness is consciously choosing to be aware of the present moment-what’s happening right in front of you, and appreciating it rather than getting caught up in unpleasant thoughts of the past or future.

3.) Emotion Regulation

Emotions can be confusing and feel very intense. Emotion regulation focuses on developing a better understanding of your unique feelings, identifying what might trigger intense emotions, and implementing strategies for managing emotions that have the potential to be destructive.

3.) Interpersonal Effectiveness

As humans, we are social creatures which means we have to navigate relationships on a daily basis. Sometimes, we find ourselves dissatisfied with relationships or end up in unhealthy relationships, and we’re not sure how we got there. Interpersonal effectiveness is geared toward developing skills and behaviors that promote genuine connection with others and satisfaction with relationships. If we are operating in a healthy way with other people, then we don’t have to experience the painful emotions that come with being a part of dysfunctional relationships.

If you are interested in DBT and have questions or would like to learn the skills in therapy, I’d love to chat with you. Please be in touch, and we can discuss further.


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