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DBT Theory, Stages, Goals, and Effectiveness

DBT is founded on the integration of three basic theoretical frameworks; they include a behavioral science biosocial account of the genesis of mental health problems, Zen Buddhism’s mindfulness practice, and dialectical philosophy.

The biosocial hypothesis makes an effort to give an explanation of how borderline personality disorders emerge. According to this hypothesis, certain individuals are born with an innate susceptibility to emotional pain. Lack of structure and consistency in a given environment might amplify a person’s negative emotional reactions. They may also affect detrimental patterns of interaction. These habits may have a detrimental effect on relationships and functioning in all contexts and usually result in suicidal conduct and/or a BPD diagnosis. You can see more detail in this regard here.

DBT borrows mindfulness practices from Zen Buddhism in order to cultivate present-moment awareness. It may assist individuals in treatment in assessing circumstances in an objective and calm manner. Mindfulness training teaches individuals how to assess their present experience, analyze facts, and concentrate on one task at a time.

Dialectics is used to assist therapists and individuals receiving therapy. They represent both sides of an issue. Dialectics is a technique used by therapists to assist clients in accepting aspects of themselves that they dislike. Additionally, they use dialectics to give incentive and support for those portions to undergo transformation. Synthesizing diametrically opposed concepts may help alleviate stress and keep treatment going ahead.

DBT’s Stages and Objectives

This kind of treatment is intended to address difficulties in a methodical and thorough manner, based on their severity. Because DBT was developed with suicidal inclinations and severe emotional disorders in mind, therapy occurs in phases. This guarantees that all complaints are handled ultimately. DBT is divided into 4 stages:

Numerous studies have shown DBT’s effectiveness, particularly in the treatment of BPD, PTSD, self-harm, and suicidality.

Stage 1

This stage is concerned with stability. Individuals in treatment may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-harm, or addiction. They often describe themselves as being at an all-time low moment in their life. The therapy is oriented on maintaining safety and intervening in times of crisis. Its purpose is to assist individuals in regaining some control over harmful habits.

Stage 2

Behaviors are more stable, and mental health difficulties may remain present—generally, emotional sorrow surfaces. Traumatic experiences are discussed in a safe environment. The purpose is to allow those undergoing therapy to feel their emotional anguish rather than suppress it.

Stage 3

This stage is focused on maintaining progress and establishing appropriate goals in order to improve the overall quality of life. Its objective is to foster contentment and stability.

Stage 4

Therapists assist individuals in taking their lives to the next level at this stage. Individuals may seek to strengthen acquired abilities or strive for spiritual satisfaction.  Its objective is to assist individuals in achieving and maintaining the ongoing capacity for pleasure and success.

How Effective Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Numerous pieces of research have shown DBT’s effectiveness. It may be particularly beneficial in the treatment of BPD, PTSD, self-injury, and suicidality.

Controlled studies in inpatient settings have shown that persons receiving 3-month DBT treatment improve at a faster pace than those receiving standard treatment.

Numerous controlled trials and independent research have shown that 1-year DBT treatment significantly reduces self-harming behaviors compared to other therapies.

DBT may be useful in preventing suicide attempts, according to research. They find that those who get DBT had a 50% reduction in their risk of attempting suicide.

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