Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an intensive outpatient treatment program with its foundations in cognitive behavioral therapy. It is designed to help people with histories of chronic suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, urges to self-harm and patterns of self-harming behaviors. The goal of treatment is to guide and support people in mastering the skills and attitudes to build a “life worth living.”– founder Marsha Linehan, 1992.
DBT assumes that all behaviors are choices and these choices have the function of solving problems in our lives. Sometimes the way we work to solve our problems is helpful. Other times, our choices can actually make things worse. Sometimes in solving one problem, we create another. Our choices can lead to misery, and perhaps, a life we might think is not worth living.
For most of us, the way we solve our problems today has a lot to do with ‘what worked’ at another time in life. As our situations and responsibilities change, we can find that what once worked isn’t really helpful anymore.
In DBT, we believe that we all are doing the best we can and have done the best we could to this point, AND, with a new day and new information, we can do better.
Because DBT is a ‘problem solving’ focused treatment, it is designed to teach and support new ways of responding to the issues of life: ways that are more helpful, ways that may actually solve the problems.
“DBT was developed for individuals with borderline personality disorder,” says Kym Hansen-Duell, LMSW, ACSW a licensed social worker at the Traverse City Clinic. “It uses concepts of mindfulness and acceptance or being aware of and attentive to the current situation and emotional state.”