Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a method for treating those people who have Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) that combines both traditional Western and non-traditional Eastern psychological concepts. The method was developed by University of Washington psychological researcher Marsha M. Linehan and she has experienced considerable success whenever implementing her plan of therapy.

Those with BPD have an extremely difficult time coping with any crises that may occur in their lives and they are also highly emotionally unstable. BPD is thus somewhat similar to Bipolar Disorder but the extremes of emotion experienced by BPD sufferers don’t usually last as long as those of manic-depressives. Linehan’s breakthrough came when she realized that BPD sufferers were all invalidated as children and that it is this self-destructive behavioral pattern that should be changed instead of the crises being removed.

There are two parts to DBT and both improve a patient’s mental health: group therapy and the one-on-one consultations between a BPD sufferer and their therapist. These methods are also used for bipolar patients. The group therapy sessions concentrate on teaching the patient four very specific skill sets, which are: core mindfulness skills, distress tolerance skills, emotion regulation skills and interpersonal effectiveness skills.

Mindfulness skills comprise the Eastern part of the therapy and pay homage to Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation techniques that teach people to calmly accept whatever happens to them without reacting emotionally to any crises. Distress tolerance skills are specifically aimed at changing behavior patterns for dealing with incidents that create stress, while emotion regulation skills help a patient control the level of their emotions by, for instance, identifying and labeling emotions and identifying obstacles that they put in the way of altering their emotions. Interpersonal effectiveness skills, on the other hand, include teaching patients when to resist changes they don’t want to happen and how to assert themselves.

The weekly individual therapy sessions put the skills learned in the group sessions to work by trying to change specific long-standing negative behavioral patterns, which behavioral patterns are always dealt with in the exact same order.

Given top priority are the parasuicidal – mild to extreme self-injury – and suicidal behavioral patterns and these are closely followed by the patterns that interfere with the patient’s therapy program and then with those that negatively impact on the patient’s quality of life. Patients are also given a chance to practice positive, life-affirming, behaviors including ways to improve their self respect and self-esteem, and ways to set and achieve their own goals.

DBT is a viable alternative to traditional ways of dealing with BPD and Bipolar Disorder by stressing crises management over self-improvement.

Look for DBT Therapy Orange County in the California area.