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What is DBT therapy?

What is DBT therapy? Why do therapists use it?

DBT helps clients understand their emotions

DBT is a psychological tool. It is an evidenced-based therapy created by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. that makes psychological regulation tools more literal and step-by-step.

DBT breaks down the emotions, one-by-one, in detail to help the client understand and identify them. The worksheets cover what other words for fear there are, what it feels like in the body, what it means evolutionarily, and so on. (Hint: Without fear, we wouldn’t run away from a tiger).

There is also an interpersonal effectiveness unit, a mindfulness unit and a distress tolerance unit. The units go deeper than just talking about things. They break each skill down into concrete, usable steps.

I’m going to use a very specific example.

If my emotions feel like a huge knot in my stomach and that knot makes me irritable and upset all the time, I won’t leave my room and I won’t try to make new friends. Maybe I won’t be able to concentrate in order to complete a task. I might overreact to small things. I might get more and more depressed because I’m not accomplishing my goals.

DBT utilizes worksheets with a pen in hand. It's an an active approach.

DBT helps us untangle the knot. It looks at the components of how anger feels, what it is for, and how we can use it effectively so that it doesn’t stay stuck in the body. It looks at what each emotion is for (fear, guilt, shame, sadness). It also helps the client learn to tolerate the distress that emotions can bring on when they get intense.

All of the emotions have a reason they exist. Fear helps us not hang out with bad people or go into bad situations. Anger helps us protect our boundaries and our property as well as our loved ones. Without anger we wouldn’t get our goals completed because we’d allow any and all interruptions. Sadness helps us understand what we truly value and create more of it. Sadness, as awful as it is, helps us find the true meaning in our lives.

In DBT groups, worksheets are often used that go through the emotions with great depth. You sit in a chair with a pen in hand. It’s active, not passive. You might spend an entire week on just sadness and another entire week on how to say something to someone in an assertive way.

DBT is psychoeducational not just psychotherapy. Although DBT groups can include both the psychoeducational component with a group therapy (psychotherapy) component.

In traditional DBT groups, the participants utilize group therapy to create connections which have often felt missing for them. Groups also help the participants gain valuable feedback about their behaviors that might hinder them out in the real world. 

 

DBT groups often are run by two therapists, not just one.

DBT groups often are run by two therapists, not just one. That’s because when someone is in distress, they tend to project all their good feelings onto one person and their bad feelings on another. DBT helps them explore this when there are two therapists involved in the process.

DBT also uses diary cards to help the client track where they are right now, in this moment. What skills are they using? What emotion are they feeling? Right here, right now.

If you are looking for a therapist trained in DBT, please look at our team page HERE

If you are looking for group therapy options for your pre-teen or teen, we have DBT components in all of our groups. Though we can’t cover the units in detail like a traditional DBT group, we cover pieces of the manual like the emotion regulation unit.

GROUP THERAPY PAGE

Free Clear Mind, we provide a safe environment for your teen to identify and work through the things that are causing them the most anxiety. Our therapists are sensitive counselors who understand sensitive people. With over 25 years of experience, we warmly invite your teens into a comfortable space where they can let go of the burdens they are holding and speak freely about their challenges, hopes and dreams.

We empower your teen to overcome anxiety and embrace confidence and enjoy life.

A free clear mind is the first step.

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Free Clear Mind Therapy provides in-person therapy in Fishers & Indianapolis and online therapy across Indiana. Specializing in anxiety therapy for teens, adults, and kids.

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