DBT to Treat BPD

By: Dr Carla Kesrouani June 6, 2023 no comments

DBT to Treat BPD

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment specifically designed to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Consequently, DBT focuses on teaching skills that target the core symptoms and challenges of BPD.As a result, DBT has been shown to be highly effective in reducing self-harm, suicidality, mood swings and impulsivity in individuals with BPD.

What is DBT?

DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness practices and acceptance strategies. The therapy aims to help clients achieve a balance between accepting themselves and changing problematic behaviors. Consequently, DBT teaches skills in four key areas:

  • Mindfulness – Focuses on living in the present moment and being non-judgemental.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness – Improves communication and asserting needs in healthy ways.
  • Emotion regulation – Learn strategies for identifying, assessing and managing intense emotions.
  • Distress tolerance – Embracing painful feelings while resisting impulsive urges.

How DBT Helps BPD

BPD is characterized by instability in mood, interpersonal relationships, self-image and behavior. Consequently, DBT targets these specific symptoms:

  • Emotion dysregulation: DBT mindfulness and emotion regulation skills help reduce extreme emotional responses.
  • Impulsivity: Distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness skills curb impulsive actions like self-harm and substance abuse.
  • Unstable relationships: Interpersonal skills improve communication and conflict management within relationships.
  • Low distress tolerance: Distress tolerance skills teach coping with painful feelings without acting impulsively.

Components of DBT

DBT for BPD typically involves:

  • Individual therapy: Focuses on reducing problematic behaviors and crisis management.
  • Group skills training: Members learn and practice DBT skills, held accountable by others.
  • Phone coaching: Clients receive guidance for using skills in real-life situations.
  • Therapist consultation meetings: Ensures therapists adhere to the DBT model.

In conclusion, DBT targets the symptoms, thought patterns and difficulties that underlie BPD. Consequently, by teaching mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance skills, DBT provides concrete strategies to help individuals gain control over their lives. This makes DBT highly effective at improving symptoms, reducing relapse and enhancing quality of life for those with BPD.



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