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What is Dialetical Behavioural Therapy?

What is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, also known as DBT was originally developed by Marsha Linehan to help treat individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or who demonstrated symptoms such as suicidal ideation and self-harming urges and behaviours. In recent years, DBT has been established to be helpful for treating a range of complex mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and to manage substance use and/or addiction among others. DBT can be used to treat adolescents and adults in either an individual and/or a group setting.

What is the difference between an individual, group and comprehensive DBT?

Group DBT – This involves attending regular weekly sessions amongst a group and is more structured in regards to homework and attendance. DBT groups often focus on skills building alone and this is the primary focus of the sessions and is usually recommended to seek individual therapy at the same time. This may also include phone coaching outside of session hours to seek support on implementing the skills learnt.

Comprehensive DBT - DBT Brisbane provides a comprehensive DBT program, this involves a weekly skills group, weekly individual therapy session and access to phone coaching which provides support to practice skills in a crisis or difficult situation after hours. DBTBrisbane Therapists also form a consult group where they meet together on a weekly basis to ensure that each clinician is offering their clients the highest quality of adherent DBT treatment. Comprehensive DBT runs for 12 months.

Individual – DBT informed therapy in an individual setting is usually less structured and is 1:1 with the client and their treating practitioner whilst focusing on targ

eting specific skills towards meeting the client’s goals for therapy. When completing individual sessions for DBT this may not include phone coaching unless also completing a DBT group at the same time. Sessions in an individual setting would last 50-60 minutes and attended approximately every 1-2 weeks. At True North Psychology Clinic, we have a number of psychologists who are able to assist in providing individual DBT informed therapy sessions to support clients

The 4 modules of DBT and how can these help me?

  1. Mindfulness: Mindfulness skills teach clients how to pay attention and focus their awareness on their thoughts, emotions, body sensations and also their external surroundings in order to feel more present in the moment whilst focusing on being non judgmental, one mindful (one thing at a time) and effective in order to reach their goals.

  2. Emotional regulation: These skills assist with learning how to identify our emotions, change emotions that are unhelpful to act on in the moment or are too intense and helps to reduce emotional vulnerability when responding to situations.

  3. Distress tolerance: Distress tolerance strategies are to help clients tolerate feeling overwhelmed without making things worse and include crisis survival skills and acceptance strategies towards things that cannot be changed. Overall these skills assist with coping with distressing thoughts, emotions, impulses and urges towards self-harm.

  4. Interpersonal effectiveness: These set of skills assist with learning how to be assertive to meet our needs whilst learning how to validate and communicate while maintaining self-respect. These skills can also help with reducing the frequency and intensity of interpersonal conflicts.


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