Addiction, mental illness, traumatic experiences: all can leave you feeling broken and spiritually drained.
Tragically, many people not one, but all three, either at some point in their lives or concurrently. So how do you pick up the pieces?
One solution is through dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT. DBT is more than just talking about what happened in the past and hoping for some kind of insight.
Rather, it provides a roadmap for you to develop the skills and abilities to heal from these types of life experiences. Here’s how DBT can help you get your life back.
Understanding DBT Skills
First, let’s take a moment to better understand what types of skills you learn in DBT. These skills fall into five distinct categories. They include:
- Mindfulness: To help you stay in control of your emotions.
- Distress Tolerance: For better managing stressful situations.
- Emotional Regulation: Allows you to identify your emotions and communicate them more effectively with others.
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: Helps you to improve your relationships with other people and to have more satisfying relationships.
- Middle Path: This teaches you how to avoid “either-or” thinking and to embrace a mindset that is more reasonable and centered in a “middle path.”
We access these skills at different points of the DBT process so that you can not only cope but also heal.
The Stages of DBT
The process of DBT is actually broken down into a four-stage process:
Reducing Harm: In the first stage of DBT, you focus on regaining control from harmful behaviors. For instance, drug or alcohol consumption that is out of control, or attempting to commit suicide. This stage is important for reducing the level of risk that these behaviors pose so that you can focus on healing.
Getting in Touch with Your Emotions: With the second stage of DBT, you work on reconnecting with your emotions. This is so that you can experience them more fully. Often people in crisis will numb their emotions or attempt to flee from them. But in stage 2 you learn to better manage your emotions.
Finding Your Inner Spark: Once you have ceased harmful behaviors and regained control of your emotions, you can thrive again. Stage 3 gives you the chance to discover inner peace and to find meaning again. Or, for some, to learn what that meaning is for the very first time. This is done by working on your interpersonal skills and setting goals.
Becoming Connected: In the last stage of DBT, you learn how to become more connected with not just yourself, but the world around you. By the time you reach this stage you have already established a solid foundation from the previous three stages and are striving towards bigger life goals such as school or work.
Learning How to Live Again
When you struggle with a mental health issue or addiction, your life becomes centered on that issue. In fact, you structure your life around the problem. This has the effect of putting your life on hold. Things that you would want to do remain only dreams.
But with DBT, you learn how to live your life again. The four stages of DBT provide an incremental step-by-step process for you to work with. Combined with the skills that you learn in DBT, you have the potential to once again be in control of your life.
You’ll feel more capable of handling whatever it is life has to throw your way.
Professional Support and DBT
It’s important to note that to get the most out of the DBT process, you need someone who understands DBT thoroughly. That means taking part in counseling with a therapist experienced in DBT.
Your therapist can help you take DBT and apply it to your specific situation and needs. Also, you know that there is someone who is supporting and encouraging you throughout this process. That can mean the extra bit of motivation you need to stick to the DBT program.
If you are struggling and need help, DBT can offer a path towards healing and control. Find out today how adult dialectical behavioral therapy can help.