Dialectical Behavioural therapy (DBT) helps people to be in control of their negative emotions particularly under stressful situations and develop better relationships. The therapy teaches them techniques to focus at the present moment, analyse and accept their unhealthy behaviours and replace them with healthy ones. It was initially designed for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and now used in treating many other disorders including eating disorders, substance abuse, anxiety disorder etc.

Would DBT help all DBT patients with self-harm tendencies?

Researches reveal that about 60% of people with BPD indulge in self-harm. DBT helps patients in getting rid of such destructive thoughts but it may not work on some in which cases the therapy has to be discontinued. A good therapist monitors each patient and identifies if he/she would benefit from DBT. When DBT isn’t done as per its specifications, it won’t prove effective and cause the patients to lose hope on DBT thus defeating its purpose.

MHS conducts DBT seminars for professionals all through the year. It also provides DBT training program for doctoral interns and practicum opportunities for psychology, counselling and social work students which help them in conducting effective DBT. Visit their website or contact them to know more the internships they offer.

Is DBT effective?

Studies on people with BOD showed that they had lower activity levels in prefrontal cortex – the area of the brain responsible for emotional and behavioural control. 29 patients who were affected by BPD for 5 years and indulged in self-harm were chosen to take part in a survey. Before DBT was offered to them, their prefrontal cortex activity was monitored using a test. The test was again repeated after they received 7 months of DBT.

There was a sharp decline in their self-harm behaviour. The improvement in their behaviour was associated with increased activity was seen in their prefrontal cortex. The study also proved that impulse control-related brain activity can be used to predict if a person can benefit from DBT.

The effectiveness of DBT relies solely on the DBT program and your therapist. If you know what you are looking for in a clinic/therapist and ask the right questions, you’ll experience the best outcome possible.

Ask these questions:

  • Did you complete a 10-day intensive training?
  • Did you complete a 5-day foundational training?
  • Are you a part of DBT consultation team?
  • Have you worked under the supervision of an expert DBT therapist?
  • When was the last time you attended DBT training?
  • What is the frequency of you attending DBT trainings/seminars?
  • Do you conduct weekly skill classes?
  • Do you conduct Behaviour Chain Analysis?
  • Are you familiar with DBT strategies?
  • Do you provide phone coaching in between live sessions?
  • Do you use Diary card tool?

If you feel DBT would help you with your condition, talk to your psychiatrist or primary care physician about it. He/she will assess you and help you confirm whether this therapeutic procedure would work for you. Remember to choose a well-trained DBT therapist.