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Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) integrates cognitive-behavioral strategies with Eastern (Zen) practices, such as mindfulness and acceptance. Originally developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT has been shown to be especially helpful for individuals who struggle with suicidal thoughts and urges and/or self-harm behaviors. DBT is also beneficial for anyone wishing to learn techniques for calming the self, coping effectively with stress, and increasing their effectiveness in relationships.

DBT typically involves individual psychotherapy and group skills training. Working collaboratively with the therapist, clients learn skills and enhance their capabilities in four areas:

• Mindfulness •  Mindfulness is the concept of cultivating awareness of thoughts, emotions, and present-moment experiences. Strategies include relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and practicing acceptance of life as it is in the moment.

• Interpersonal Effectiveness • Provides an opportunity to explore how to be more successful in relationships with family members, friends, in love relationships, and at work. Skills are aimed at identifying goals and needs in relation to others, working effectively toward interpersonal goals, and coping with interpersonal conflict.

•  Emotion Regulation • Focuses on understanding and effectively managing painful emotional states, such as anxiety, depression, guilt, and anger. Specific skills include increasing mindfulness to current emotions, identifying obstacles to changing emotions, reducing vulnerability to negative emotions, and increasing positive emotional experiencing,

•  Distress Tolerance • Enhances the ability to deal with life stresses and manage crises in effective ways. Techniques for tolerating stressful situations when they cannot be immediately changed include distracting, self-soothing, and improving the moment.

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