One of the most effective treatment modalities for people who suffer from a borderline personality disorder and personality disorders not otherwise specified, dialectical behavior therapy is a favorite with psychologists looking to help clients struggling with multi-axis diagnoses, or problems in their interpersonal relationships and at work. An intense form of therapy that includes worksheets and techniques for behavior changes, DBT therapy is widely believed to be one of the most successful evidence-based modalities for clients who haven’t had success with more client-driven techniques.

If you struggle with a personality disorder, have trouble getting along with people in your daily life, or have problems with anxiety, here’s what you might want to know about DBT therapy.

The Basics


DBT therapy can be a lot of work. Clients who enroll in DBT therapy programs can expect homework in the form of workbooks and worksheets. Many will get group assignments, too. But unlike the kind of assignments you may have had in school, therapists and group leaders will assign you to work on you. An example of a DBT worksheet might be listing ways your behaviors have caused problems for you. On the other hand, you’d be asked how you could handle situations differently and what the outcome might be.

The reason why DBT therapy is so work-intensive is that the overall goal of the method is to help with changing behaviors including reactions to the behaviors of others. With an emphasis on self and interpersonal relationships, DBT workbooks are less interested in a family of origin than they are in present life situations.

Client Engagement and Groups


Because DBT is so intense, it means cooperation from not only the client but also from a therapist consultation team and others trained in individual and group dynamics. A coordinated effort that requires open communication and years of experience, any client hoping to improve their interpersonal effectiveness can start by being engaged in group sessions. The skilled therapists who run DBT groups will work with individual members so you can practice your new skills on each other. By going in with an open mind, you might soon find that your ability to identify emotion dysregulation is improved— all because the person who sits next to you was able to help you identify impulses. In short, effective DBT at its best sometimes takes a team.

Why and How it Works


Many people ask why dialectical behavior therapy works so well for the treatment of borderline personality disorder where other modalities fail. The reason for this is because the method includes teaching clients distress tolerance skills, emotional regulation skills, and how to identify their emotional vulnerability in any given situation. An intense form of behavior therapy often used in psychiatric hospitalizations, it doesn’t leave anything out. That is, between group sessions and work on problem-solving skills in individual but congruent therapy sessions, a client gets help on all ends.

Maybe you’ve been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and find yourself struggling in relationships over little things that don’t seem to bother other people. Maybe you caught your partner looking up ‘womens underwear‘ online and jumped to a conclusion that he was doing something wrong instead of considering that he might have been trying to buy you a present. People who experience intense emotions or reactions to what other people might consider innocent human behaviors are exactly who can benefit from DBT skills training.

Finding a DBT Therapist or Group


Many local hospitals and mental wellness clinics offer group therapy for DBT patients. Some of these programs are more intense than others, with partial hospitalization programs meaning all-day sessions for people to work in groups and individually on more severe problems. But DBT can be done in private with an individual therapist, too. If you might be interested, a quick Google search on DBT therapists in your area is a great place to start. Calling 211 and asking for the number to your local mental health community agency will work, too.

In the end, DBT therapy programs mean a lot of work by both the client and the therapist. For this modality to work, it requires client engagement, including in group sessions. If you’re truly motivated about making big changes in your life and getting out of old habits, DBT might be exactly what you need for a fresh start. Ask your current therapist or look for a new one who specializes in DBT about how to get started. Happy healing to you and best wishes on your recovery ahead.