Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) was developed by Dr. Marsha M. Linehan to treat personality disorder. Some people are prone to react more intensely toward some emotional situations, and dialectical behavioral therapy suggests that these people achieve a higher level of emotional stimulation and take longer to calm down. They have extreme mood swings and see the world in black and white. They cannot cope with such intense emotional surges, and DBT is a way to deal with these issues in a strategic way.

At Avalon Malibu, therapists reinforce adaptive behaviors as they occur. The emphasis is on teaching clients to manage emotional trauma, rather than taking them out of the present crisis. Together, therapists and clients work to improve basic social skills by learning distress tolerance, reality acceptance, emotional regulation, and mindfulness.

Using dialectical behavioral therapy, Avalon Malibu’s staff focuses on reducing destructive behaviors by teaching clear and healthy ways to adapt and cope with their challenges and feelings of frustration or lack of power. It teaches the skills related to regulating emotions, interacting in relationships, and tolerating distress.

What Should Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Accomplish?

DBT should be effective in helping clients to maintain control and to manage their overwhelming emotions more effectively. It also helps them to learn to handle distress in healthier ways. Dialectical behavioral therapy emphasizes learning to tolerate emotional pain. These skills help our clients to live happier and healthier lives.

Many different types of people are taught DBT skills: from those who were stressed out with work, to those struggling with parenthood, to adolescents who harm themselves in dealing with their stress. All walks of life are able to benefit from these skills. Dialectical behavioral therapy skills are positive life skills from which anyone can benefit.

What is the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Group?

The focus of the DBT group is mindfulness. Research has shown that problem solving occurs when attention is fully focused on the present moment. There are two areas affected by stress: short-term memory, and the ability to quickly process information.

Mindfulness in dialectical behavioral therapy includes meditation practices, where the client observes the experience of the present moment without judgment or impulsive action. These observations have been shown to reduce stress and increase concentration when practiced consistently. The client learns to recognize emotions in themselves and others, to tolerate difficult emotions, and to engage others quite effectively.

How Does the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) Group Work?

Sometimes people have suffered painful childhood experiences that they cannot cope with. They find it hard to sleep without nightmares, or they feel angry or sad much of the time. They may abuse substances to get by. In relationships, they often feel misunderstood, hurt, angry or afraid that others don’t or won’t like them. Group DBT sessions usually discuss how to apply the information learned in the group to the client’s personal problems. These sessions teach clients a set of skills that work in coping with a range of difficult situations. The group is set up differently than ordinary group sessions and is likely run like a classroom with handouts, lectures, people taking notes, and discussions. Dialectical behavioral therapy is not like a traditional therapy group.

A facilitator leads the groups in a focused and safe environment in which to learn and to grow. Clients bring what they have learned in group sessions to their individual DBT sessions, where discussion centers around how to personally apply the information learned.

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