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Trauma Healing Center

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based, specialized approach to cognitive behavioral therapy. While it was developed by Marsha M. Linehan, a University of Washington psychology researcher to treat personality disorders, trauma therapy centers use it to treat anxiety by using techniques that help patients develop the skills to manage painful emotions, change negative thinking patterns, improve relationships, and achieve positive behavioral changes in all aspects of one’s life. 


How does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?


Dialectical behavior therapy is a process in which the therapist and client engage in dialogue-based work utilizing a change-oriented strategy. During the dialogue, the DBT therapist will work with the client to build a specific set of skills in these four key areas:


Mindfulness – Centers on improving the patient’s ability to be present in the moment and experience their present awareness in a clear manner while setting intentions.


Interpersonal Effectiveness – Empowers the individual to communicate intentionally and with mutual respect to reduce conflicts and strengthen relationships.


Distress Tolerance Skills – Builds on mindfulness to increase a person’s ability to process distress as it is experienced, practice self-soothing, and improve their resiliency.


Emotional Regulation Skills – Strengthens the patient’s ability to manage intense emotions by breaking the cycles of negative thinking and self-talk.


Based on your unique profile, needs, and evaluation, you may be given a specific set of tools to use when utilizing dialectical behavior therapy to treat anxiety. For example, your therapist may create diary cards formatted to your needs that can be used to track behaviors and emotions. For diary cards to give clients maximum benefit, they should be filled out on a daily basis. These will enable DBT therapists to identify treatment priorities and establish the guided agenda for each therapy session. Then, the therapist and client can study the diary cards together and determine the improved areas, points that got worse, or elements that remained the same. 


What is the Difference Between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy?


Dialectical behavior therapy is built on the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy and seeks to enhance its effectiveness by focusing on the psychosocial aspects of treatment, or how the individual interacts with different environments and relationships.


Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Help Treat Anxiety?


Roughly one in five Americans live with a form of anxiety, or they have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder by a therapist. There is a lot of research available supporting the conclusion that dialectical behavior therapy helps people manage and lower their anxiety levels while bringing more peace and joy into their lives. For example, dialectical behavior therapy improves emotional regulation as it manages and influences one’s emotions that surround the root of anxiety. For example, if a client had a traumatic near-drowning experience as a child, and every time they are near a swimming pool or a body of water their anxiety kicks in thus emotionally hobbling them from being able to enjoy a calming day with family, anxiety treatments like dialectical behavior therapy may be the best solution. DBT techniques can change the way we think in such challenging situations, and it can also reduce the emotional intensity that pairs with certain memories and triggers that make it difficult for clients to regulate their emotions. Often, many people who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and who receive DBT therapy can walk away after treatment feeling less overwhelmed by their emotional responses and they have greater control and regulation of their emotions. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy Helps Strengthen Our Capacity for Paying Attention and Making Balanced Decisions.


In dialectical behavior therapy clients learn how to practice mindfulness. When most people hear “mindfulness”, they tend to think of the meditation practice, but it goes much deeper than that. The mindfulness element of DBT teaches clients to train the part of their “cognitive muscle” responsible for paying attention. This helps people suffering from anxiety learn how to place priority and focus on what is happening in the present as opposed to traumatic events that happened in the past or worry about what the future holds–a place of focus that, contrary to many beliefs, can only intensify one’s anxiety. The idea is to avoid the anxious thoughts and feelings that stem from past events, or the “what ifs” that run in tandem with the future. Rather, clients are taught to focus on what they do have control over, in the present moment, and how to regulate any emotions that might surface.


Dialectical behavior therapy also helps clients to make balanced decisions. Before DBT therapy, many people suffering from anxiety make decisions that are rooted in stress, fear, or a heavy state of worry. Dialectical behavior therapy teaches clients how to activate their “wise mind” and conduct work from that space as a healthier alternative. When we talk about the “wise mind” we are referring to the healthy balanced amalgamation of the emotional and the reasonable mind. When people make decisions from this space, they are considering their feelings but do so from a place of logic. For people that have extreme types of anxiety this might mean they start by acknowledging that fear by being sensitive and nurturing to their emotional state while encouraging them to take action. Some therapists like to tell clients to imagine they are talking to a seven-year-old version of themselves, acknowledging their fear, but encouraging them to act from a place of love and nurturing. 


Call Serenity Trauma to See if Dialectical Behavior Therapy is Your Best Anxiety Treatment Course


If you are coping with borderline personality disorder, have problems with anxiety, or are interested in DBT for depression, Serenity Trauma Healing Center provides knowledgeable and compassionate treatment tailored to the individual’s challenges. Our innovative dialectical behavior therapy techniques will help you process strong emotions, heal past trauma, and become the strong and resilient person you want to be. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to start learning the skills you need to recover from trauma and live your best life.

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Contact Us Today

Serenity Trauma Healing Center is state- and JCAHO-accredited to provide a multitude of proven psychotherapy services to clients with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Our programs include weekly evaluations and start at two weeks long but can continue for timeframes recommended by our licensed experts. We accept many insurance plans. To discuss your situation and learn more about our treatment options, contact us immediately online or at the numbers below.