How Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Can Help You Heal

What is dialectical behavioral therapy and how can it help individuals achieve lasting mental well-being? Find out here.
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Dialectical Behavior Therapy’s Role in Sustainable Healing

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is designed to help people develop emotional regulation skills. It also helps with distress tolerance and unhealthy relationships by providing multiple points of support and healing.
At Mind Body Optimization (MBO), we understand the unique challenges faced by people with mental health and substance use disorders (SUD). Because of this, we walk with our clients every step of the way throughout their wellness journey.
We also equip people with the skills and support they need for long-term well-being. By using therapies such as dialectical behavior therapy, our clients can start sustainable healing today.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Understanding DBT

Dr. Marsha M. Linehan is known as the founder of dialectical behavior therapy. She began studying standard behavioral therapy for those with borderline personality disorder (BPD), as this group often has a higher suicide risk and stronger emotional instability than other groups.
But, she realized that standard therapy had many limitations in treatment. In response to the inadequacies of traditional techniques, she drew from a range of sources to expand into DBT, including:1
  • Zen Buddhism: In DBT, people are taught mindfulness practices. This enables them to mindfully observe and accept their emotions without reacting.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This helps people identify and challenge irrational thoughts. DBT adds acceptance and validation to these core CBT principles.
  • Social learning theory: This theory is that behavior is influenced by social reinforcement. DBT develops skills for improving relationships.
She continued to expand dialectical behavior therapy until it is what we know it as today. It is now the top treatment provided for emotional dysregulation.

What Are The Core Principles Of DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy has multiple principles that make up its practice, including:


Mindfulness encourages people to note their thoughts, emotions, and physical feelings without making judgments or overanalyzing them.
Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness helps people regulate their emotions. Mindfulness-based interventions reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. This suggests that many people could benefit from this approach.2
Another study shows that mindfulness-based therapy reduces emotional reactivity and lowers distress tolerance among BPD patients.3

Distress Tolerance

Dialectical behavior therapy helps people handle tough emotions without resorting to self-harm or negative coping mechanisms. This nurtures emotional resilience and boosts well-being.
Distress tolerance in DBT appears to be modified through several mechanisms:4
  • Emotion identification and validation: Clients are taught to name and accept all feelings, even uncomfortable ones. This support forms a basis for healthy defense mechanisms. 
  • Crisis survival skills: DBT teaches people how to stay safe when experiencing suicidal thoughts and other emotional crises. Some tips may involve dialing a crisis hotline, self-soothing, or talking to a trusted loved or therapist.
  • Building a good life: DBT emphasizes finding and pursuing valued activities and purposes. It enables people to foster a desire to use distress tolerance skills. It also helps them build a lasting path to happiness.5

Emotion Regulation

Emotional regulation teaches patients to safely work through difficult or intense feelings. This goes beyond just suppressing feelings – it promotes:
  • Understanding
  • Acceptance
  • Skillful handling
For example, instead of trying to get rid of emotions, people learn to acknowledge them as valid experiences. This acceptance allows for more open and safe expression.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The power of interpersonal effectiveness is in its ability to develop and manage quality relationships. This involves using clear communication, assertiveness, and respect. It helps people move away from unhealthy ways of communicating that may hinder healing and wellness.

Radical Acceptance

This means recognizing that other people are separate beings that have their own opinions, feelings, and limits. This fosters empathy and reduces attempts to control or change others.

Setting Boundaries

DBT teaches setting healthy limits with oneself and others, which are vital for setting healthy boundaries in a relationship. This is done in such a way that the people involved are protected from harm.

How DBT Blends Mindfulness and Psychology for Whole-Person Healing

DBT allows people to process and work through symptoms or negative feelings in a way that accurately reflects the human experience. In turn, people increase their emotional strength and can navigate difficult times while creating their desired life.

A Toolbox of Skills for Every Situation

Dialectical behavior therapy provides a toolbox of skills with which people can adjust their emotions by using techniques like deep breathing and visualization. This creates a multi-faceted way to deal with distress.
DBT gives people options so that they can identify which tools they may be able to use during difficult emotional circumstances.

Other Dynamic Techniques Used in DBT

To become more dynamic, DBT uses various methods to help people work through difficult emotions and other symptoms, such as:
  • Mindful breathing techniques: These help promote relaxation and emotional regulation.
  • Cognitive reframing: This aims to address negative thinking patterns.
  • Wholehearted acceptance: This means recognizing feelings or situations without trying to alter them. 
  • Interpersonal communication skills: These are used for positive communication in relationships.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy at MBO

Our knowledgeable and compassionate MBO team aims to promote personalized, readily accessible mental health care. Our outpatient mental health treatment is multifaceted and holistic, ensuring that clients get professional mental health support while still being autonomous over their own healing journey.
Some of the advantages of outpatient treatment at MBO include:

Individualized Treatment Plans

Unlike one-size-fits-all approaches, MBO customizes treatment plans to fit both individual and co-occurring concerns.
Clients take part in making a plan that suits their:
  • Situation
  • Preferences
  • Ambitions 
At MBO, therapists act as a guide, ensuring clients receive the support they need.

Flexibility and Reachability

Compared to traditional hospitalization settings, our outpatient psychotherapy options offer more flexibility. This means clients can attend sessions that work best with their schedule, minimizing disruption of everyday activities.
For even further accessibility, we offer telehealth services, enabling clients to heal from the comfort and security of their own home.

Focus on Emotional Regulation and Well-Being

MBO helps people focus on emotional resilience by using evidence-based practices, such as dialectical behavior therapy.
To round out treatment, we also offer holistic services like:
At MBO, clients are actively encouraged to take part in their own recovery process. When clients walk alongside us during treatment and recovery, they gain self-awareness and coping methods on the journey to better mental health.

Reduced Stigma

Outpatient care tends to have fewer stigmas than inpatient care, as it means that people don’t have to reside at the facility full-time.
This means that people can approach treatment without worrying about the stigma or thoughts of others. We believe this is important for those who struggle with unsupportive family or friends.

Ongoing Support and Maintenance

Even after reaching initial goals, our outpatient therapy will still provide support. To keep up with the progress after leaving our program, MBO offers maintenance sessions and resources to teach clients how to face future challenges.

Healing for Treatment-Resistant Individuals

Traditional treatment methods can fail many people seeking lasting relief from mental health challenges. MBO understands this struggle, which is why we offer an innovative healing program for anyone who walks through our doors.
We understand that treatment demands a multi-faceted approach that goes beyond traditional methods. This is why we blend evidence-based practices with other interventions to address different aspects of the wellness journey.
The final outcome is a more holistic plan tailored to each person and their goals for lasting wellness.

Personalized Healing Through Individualized Needs and Adaptations

At Mind Body Optimization, we value individualized care. This is especially true in our dialectical behavior therapy. We recognize that each person’s journey is different, and a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.

Customizing Treatment Plans

This entails making a comprehensive assessment of your unique difficulties, strengths, and aspirations.
Our team of compassionate mental healthcare professionals will walk each client through:
  • Each step of the treatment plan
  • Symptoms
  • What this means for recovery
  • Personal struggles with emotional regulation, relationships, and distress tolerance

Developing Strengths

Dialectical behavior therapy at MBO does not just focus on weaknesses – it also uses strengths to build resilience and self-empowerment. The therapist works with each client to identify their particular strengths. We then use these areas as anchor points to develop skills and coping strategies.

Aims-Based Approach

It’s very important that treatment plans are specifically customized to each client’s goals. The therapist will help:
  • Manage intense emotions
  • Improve relationships
  • Reduce self-harm tendencies 
They do so by creating a treatment map that guides clients toward their goals.

Adapting DBT for Specific Conditions

Dialectical behavior therapy works in varying ways depending on symptoms. Some conditions it’s used to treat include:
  • Depression: DBT skills, like mindfulness and distress tolerance, help manage negative thinking and difficult emotions that often form a person’s depression diagnoses. 
  • Anxiety: For managing anxiety, DBT teaches identifying and challenging anxious thoughts. It also includes practicing relaxation and building social skills.
  • PTSD: Traumatic flashbacks and triggers can be reduced by being aware enough to ground people in the present. 
  • Co-occurring disorders: MBO acknowledges that multiple disorders and symptoms often occur at the same time. This is why we adapt treatment and DBT strategies to address the unique needs of each disorder.

Goal Setting and Progress Tracking in DBT

Our therapists work with each client to find possible and meaningful goals. These goals will be driven by the values and the outcomes each person cares about. The process doesn’t happen just once – it is a dialogue that keeps goals relevant and motivating.
MBO uses many tools to track client progress. These include self-monitoring charts, weekly reviews, and consistent communication. Through these methods, we can identify and adapt to opportunities for growth.

Ongoing Feedback and Adjustment

We try to create an open environment so that we can discuss accurately about our dialectical behavioral therapy practice. We deliberately create a safe space for each client to speak directly about their needs.
We also realize a person’s needs may change, so we need regular feedback to revise earlier plans. These plans will efficiently address the problems each client faces.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Reclaim Your Well-Being with DBT

Dialectical behavior therapy is a great therapeutic approach for those struggling with emotional distress. It acts as a valuable tool for teaching emotional resilience, coping skills, and relationship building, all of which are crucial for holistic well-being.
At Mind Body Optimization, we are dedicated to providing compassionate, evidence-based care through approaches like dialectical behavior therapy, as well as more integrative, complementary modalities such as mindfulness, art therapy, and music therapy. We aim to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms.
We believe in your ability to take on the journey to healing and achieve your mental health and wellness goals, and we’re here to help every step of the way.

Contact Mind Body Optimization Today

If you or someone you know are struggling with their mental health, you are not alone. Our team at Mind Body Optimization is ready to help you take the first step toward lasting wellness.
Reach out to us today to learn more about dialectical behavior therapy and our treatment programs. Lead the happy, healthy, and fulfilling life you were made for.