DBT Skills Training can be complementary and supportive of a variety of psychotherapy approaches. Therapy deepens and progresses when the vulnerable, emotionally dysregulated client is supported by the highly effective skills developed by Marsha Linehan. Kate Northcott and Lori Schwanbeck offer individual consultation for clinicians who would like to encourage their clients to study DBT Skills and who would like to integrate skills concepts into their practice. Please contact Lori or Kate for more information about individual consultation.
Emotions are neither good or bad, they are essential for survival. Emotions help us to defend ourselves (anger and jealousy), to protect ourselves (fear, shame, disgust), to connect with other beings (love), to motivate (envy) and to live according to our values (guilt). Emotions do this by triggering an urge to do something.
Human beings (and sometimes other mammals) are sensitive. Thoughts (interpretations) produce an instant biochemical response. Our brains, eyes, skin tone (and usually our facial expressions) change instantly. And we feel an urge to take action. All this happens before we’re even aware of an emotion. The “action urge” is powerful. We find ourselves taking action before we assess the efficacy of the action. Sometimes this is very helpful. If I see a tiger running towards me, it’s beneficial that I take action immediately, without stopping to think about what to do. I don’t need to make an interpretation; I just need to get to safety. But if someone cuts me off on the freeway, and I feel angry and an urge to retaliate, that may create problems for me (like possible death!). That is a good time to do the opposite to the emotion action (urge). Read more
Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), a group psychotherapy developed by Zindel Segal, J. Mark Williams and John Teasdale, prevents depression relapse through a synthesis of mindfulness and cognitive therapy. The practice of mindfulness helps us to pay attention. It allows “emergent insight that is beyond thought but can be articulated through thought” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). This is a process that is compatible with cognitive therapy, which focuses on observing, describing and deconstructing thoughts and beliefs. Read more
“What on earth is DBT?” “DBT – I would never want to do that!” “DBT is only for clients with very severe diagnoses”, “DBT is behavioral – ugh!”
As DBT takes on a bigger and bigger presence in the psychotherapy community, many psychotherapists and clients make these statements. This short and informal article is a very, very brief description of a simple, complex, easy, difficult, fun, hard, highly effective approach to learning how to live a better life. (The previous sentence used some examples of dialectics.) Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is a validation, mindfulness, and skills- based psychotherapy method. The DBT philosophy, approach and interventions can be helpful to any client and to any psychotherapist. Read more
Effective, Creative and Mindful Work with Challenging Clients
By Karin Shola von Daler, MFT and Lori Schwanbeck, MFT
Working creatively and effectively with clients who present with extreme emotional dysregulation often seems daunting, if not impossible. These are individuals who struggle with challenging diagnoses such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), PTSD, eating and mood disorders. We have found that it is possible to work with the Expressive Arts (EXA) to effect change while also staying inspired and avoiding burnout. Combining the successful treatment model of DBT with somatic awareness and EXA, clinicians can learn how to successfully teach mindfulness to help highly reactive clients find emotional balance. Drawing on the latest neurological research, we use hands-on, relational ways of engaging both the sensory and rational parts of the brain to balance the emotional systems. This paper will outline some of the theoretical and clinical considerations on which we have based our workshops and trainings for both clinicians and clients.
Therapists — Learn a DBT Skill:
What Wise Mind is. How to find it. How to teach it.
The more we practice mindfulness, or observing, the easier it becomes to access the DBT skill called Wise Mind. Wise Mind is a deep knowing — a quiet voice of guidance found at the meeting place of reason and emotions. In neurological terms, this is the balance of the limbic system (emotions), with the pre-frontal cortex (reasoning). DBT proposes that this “knowing the right thing to do” is available to all of us, when we know to look for it beneath the turbulence of emotions and judgmental thoughts. Read more