Goals of DBT
Therapy is about learning skills that increase clients’ ability to have a life worth living. Therapy is not about immediately “feeling better.” In fact, a good part of DBT is about learning to be better at feeling uncomfortable emotions in order to begin living a life worth living.
The target behaviors of DBT include:
Eliminating Behaviors that are Harmful to Self or Others
Clients will work towards solving problems in ways that do not include intentional harm to themselves or others.
Eliminating Therapy-Interfering Behaviors
Clients agree to work on any problems that interfere with the progress of therapy. Therapy is about working together and requires the participation of both the therapist and the client. Clients agree to give feedback to their therapists on how they are finding therapy, especially if they are concerned about anything that occurs in therapy. Similarly, therapists agree to provide feedback on how they are finding therapy.
Reducing Quality-of-Life Interfering Behaviors
Clients commit to actively engaging in the behaviors that are taught in the DBT training in order to improve their overall quality of life by increasing the following skills:
Mindfulness is the ability to practice being aware and accepting one’s moment-to-moment experiences. Mindfulness teaches participants how to focus the mind, direct attention, and how to non-judgmentally observe and describe what they are feeling and thinking in the moment. These skills can help people develop a more stable sense of who they are and can help reduce reactivity to painful thoughts and emotions.
Distress tolerance skills teach participants how to effectively distract and productively soothe themselves while in the midst of their distress. These skills typically replace problem behaviors such as missing school or work, self-inflicted cutting, physical fights, and alcohol or drug abuse.
Emotion regulation skills address extreme emotional sensitivity, rapid mood changes, and other unregulated moods such as chronic depression, anxiety, or hostility. Examples of specific skills include learning to identify and label emotions, learning how to increase positive moods, and learning how to make yourself less vulnerable to negative moods.
Interpersonal effectiveness skills address participants’ difficulties in maintaining consistent and rewarding relationships by teaching skills such as how to ask for what they want, how to say no in a gentle yet effective manner, and how to maintain one’s sense of self-respect and independence in the face of external pressure.