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What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and How is it Used in Behavioral Health?

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and How is it Used in Behavioral Health?

posted by: Nicole Hovey date: Aug 23, 2019 category: Blog comments: Comments Off on What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and How is it Used in Behavioral Health?

As a behavioral health or addiction treatment provider, you know that not all therapy approaches are created equal. Some types of therapy are more effective for certain behavioral health needs or patient populations. Individual providers may have more experience and training in some treatment approaches compared to others.

Here on the BestNotes blog, we’ll be taking a look at some different therapy approaches and how they are best incorporated into a behavioral health or addiction treatment practice.

What is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy that helps an individual build beneficial life skills through both individual and group therapy. The origins of DBT can be traced back to the 1980s, when psychologist Marsha M. Linehan began to develop this approach.

To be most effective, DBT combines several components:

Identifying and building on an individual’s unique strengths to help build self-esteem
Learning to identify irrational or harmful thoughts and beliefs
Collaboration with clinicians and support group members to practice skills such as self-soothing methods during times of emotional upset

What is DBT used for?

DBT was originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder. Researchers also indicates that DBT can help others who struggle to control their emotions and manage high-risk behaviors. Mental health issues that may benefit from DBT include:

Depression and anxiety
Binge eating and bulimia
Bipolar disorder
Post-traumatic-stress disorder
Substance abuse and addiction
Suicidal behavior
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

How does DBT work?

Techniques used in DBT include:

Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the present moment
Increased tolerance and acceptance of negative emotions
Better emotional regulation
More effective, respectful communication in relationships

These DBT techniques can help a person learn to better manage strong emotions, relationship difficulties, and other changes in life. Experts recommend that DBT include an individual therapy component and a group therapy component.

One-on-one therapy can help a patient identify dysfunctional behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. A clinician guides DBT participants to modify their thought patterns and engage in more effective behaviors.

In group therapy, DBT participants receive peer support and further build their new skills. Participants may receive homework assignments to help them practice their skills until the next session.

Does DBT work?

Numerous studies have found several benefits associated with the use of DBT. This includes reduced self-harm behavior and changes in brain function, improved emotional regulation, and reduced substance use.

Like most other forms of behavioral health treatment, adherence can be an issue that may affect the results of DBT. When participants continue to engage in DBT, however, symptoms can improve.

Make DBT and other therapies more effective for your patients

Treatment and management techniques for behavioral health conditions can be complicated. Whether you provide DBT or another form of therapy, the right EHR solution can help you and your clients set and achieve goals.

BestNotes EHR software was designed with you, your practice, and your clients in mind. Track patient progress, coordinate care with other specialists, and create all the documents you need with one optimal solution. Contact us today to learn more or request a live demo.

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