How NYC Dialectical Behavior Therapy Helps Patients Recover From Destructive Lives

By Joyce Sanders

There are numerous people suffering from behavioural disorders and behavioural patterns that are deemed harmful. This may include tendencies to harm oneself, try to commit suicide and the abuse of substances. Many people say that these sufferers are simply weak minded, unambitious and wilful, but this is certainly not always the case. In NYC dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT for short, has proven to be extremely helpful in steering sufferers towards more balanced lives.

This treatment techniques was first developed by Marsha Linehan from the University of Washington. Its original purpose was to treat people with borderline personality disorders and those that are chronically suicidal. It soon became clear, however, that the techniques could also be used in the treatment of many other disorders, including eating and mood disorders. Survivors of sexual abuse and those inclined to harm themselves have also been treated successfully.

DBT is a combination of existing cognitive treatment methods and Zen Buddhist meditative techniques. Cognitive treatment focus on the regulation of the emotions, by the Buddhist components focus on teaching patients how to control their emotions, how to face reality, how to develop interaction skills and how to accept reality. Research studies have concluded that this method has achieved definite results with fewer patients attempting suicide.

DBT generally consist of two main components. The first is individual weekly psychotherapy sessions. During these sessions the patients is encouraged to gain control over his emotions, to develop a sense of self worth and to recognize situations that can cause severe emotional reactions. Patients are encouraged to take positive steps to increase their overall quality of life. In between sessions the patient always have telephone access to the therapist.

The second components of DBT is weekly group sessions. Sessions generally last two and a half hours. Patients are encouraged to interact with each other and to share their emotions. Patients are also equipped with skills on coping with coping with distress, regulating and controlling their emotions and how to face reality. A high emphasis is also placed on teaching patients to develop effective interpersonal skills.

Treatment programs do not have fixed time tables. Each patient progress at his own pace. However, as with many psychological treatment programs, patients do not progress unless they accept the fact that they have a problem and develop a strong desire to overcome those problems. Some DBT practitioners advocate a tough love approach where patients are confronted with their problems and where they have to choose between treatment and rejection.

Critics of DBT say that treatment programs tend to focus on specific disorders, such as suicidal tendencies, but that most mentally disturbed patients suffer from a complex variety of mental health problems. They also say that not enough research have been conducted to conclusively prove that DBT produces results. In addition, very little research have been done to follow up on patients after completing their treatment programs.

People suffering from mental disorders used be be scorned by society. They were described as mad, disturbed or plain stupid. Thankfully, programs such as DBT can help such patients to regain fulfilling and productive lives.

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