Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, developed by Marsha Linehan (1993) is extraordinarily effective at helping people manage overwhelming emotions. Research shows that this form of therapy is highly effective at helping individuals cope with overwhelming emotions.
If you’ve faced overwhelming emotions in your life, you know how challenging it can be to control what you’re feeling in the moment. In fact, a lot of people struggle with overwhelming emotions. It’s as if a knob is turned to maximum volume on much of what they feel. When they get angry, sad or scared, it shows up for them in a pretty big way, and that can cause them to get swept underneath their feet.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy can be used for the following:
- Sexual Abuse History
- Trauma History
- Sexual Victimization
- Eating Disorders
- Loss and Heart Break
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder I & II
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Borderline Personality Disorder
The term “dialectical” means the interaction of conflicting ideas. Within DBT, “dialectical” refers to the integration of both acceptance and change as necessities for improvement.6 Dialectical behavior therapy aims to address the symptoms of BPD by replacing maladaptive behaviors with healthier coping skills, such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance. It is currently the only empirically supported treatment for BPD as demonstrated by the Cochrane Collaborative Review.7 Research has also shown it be effective in treatment of substance use disorders, mood disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders in both adults and adolescents.8 Given the often comorbid psychiatric symptoms with BPD in patients participating in DBT, psychopharmacologic interventions are oftentimes considered appropriate adjunctive care. This article aims to outline the basic principles of DBT as well as comment on the role of pharmacotherapy as adjunctive treatment for the symptoms of BPD.