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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Banner Health offers treatment for many behavioral health issues with outpatient therapy, including dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Our specially trained therapists can help patients with anxiety, depression, impulsivity and self-esteem issues build skills to manage extreme emotions and improve personal relationships.

To learn more about Banner’s Health DBT treatment, call our Appointment Line at (602) 254-4357.

If you’re in immediate danger, call 911. For confidential mental health support from a trained counselor, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy (talk therapy) that can help patients struggling with overwhelming emotions, which can lead to self-destructive behaviors and unstable relationships. It uses a psychological and social (psychosocial) approach, emphasizing collaboration, peer support and personal development.

“Dialectical" is the idea of bringing opposites together, in this case by combining acceptance and change.

The skilled staff at Banner Health’s DBT program can help patients identify and change negative thinking patterns. With the guidance of a licensed therapist, patients in our program learn skills to cope with highly emotional situations and change unhealthy behaviors.

DBT can help patients experience improved social functioning, less frequent and less severe negative behaviors, shorter hospitalizations and less anger. Patients receiving DBT are also less likely to drop out of treatment.

What Types of DBT Treatments Are Available?

Banner Health’s DBT program includes four skill modules proven to help patients make positive and long-term behavioral changes. These types of DBT include:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness focuses on improving your ability to be present – to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, impulses and sensations in a non-judgmental way. Being mindful means you slow down, stay calm and concentrate on how to be most effective to gain control of your mind when dealing with an emotional situation. This helps you avoid negative thoughts and impulsive behaviors.
  • Distress tolerance: Distress tolerance teaches you how to withstand and survive a crisis using techniques such as distraction, self-soothing, improving the moment and thinking of pros and cons. You first accept distress is an inevitable part of life. Acceptance is not the same as approval. Distress tolerance means you can experience distress without ignoring it. You learn skills to cope with intense emotions rather than trying to escape, reacting impulsively or turning to self-injury or substance abuse.
  • Emotion regulation: Emotion regulation teaches you skills to effectively navigate powerful feelings that could otherwise cause problems. It helps you recognize and label your emotions, identify obstacles, reduce emotional vulnerability and increase positive emotional experiences.
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: Interpersonal effectiveness teaches you how to assertively express your beliefs, navigate conflict and strengthen relationships. By learning how to listen and communicate effectively, deal with difficult people and respect yourself and others, you’re more likely to attain your goals and maintain positive and healthy relationships.

Who Would Benefit from DBT Treatment?

DBT can be an effective treatment for patients struggling with intense and unstable emotions, behaviors and thoughts. While originally developed for patients with borderline personality disorder or who may be suicidal, it’s been successfully adapted for other mental health problems such as:

To determine if DBT is right for you, our Banner Health team assesses your symptoms, medical history and therapy goals. Together, we build a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs.

What Can I Expect During DBT?

DBT includes individual therapy, group therapy and phone coaching. Additionally, Banner may offer a DBT consultation team that regularly meets to discuss your care to ensure continuity and effectiveness.

In partnership with a therapist, patients will work on self-acceptance and positive change. The first step is to treat the most serious behaviors, such as attempted suicide or self-harm. Next, the patient will work on skills for mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal effectiveness. From there, treatment can focus on improving relationships and self-esteem, allowing for continued joy and finding satisfaction in relationships.

Individual therapy sessions with a therapist focus on problem-solving current issues. Our caring therapists ensure your therapeutic needs are met, including helping you build self-esteem, stay motivated and apply DBT skills. Most patients have weekly, one-hour individual therapy sessions.

In group therapy, patients learn and practice DBT skills together, sharing experiences and providing support. A trained therapist leads the sessions, including discussions, exercises and homework. Most groups have weekly, one-hour group therapy sessions.

In general, a full course of dialectical behavior therapy takes around six months to complete.

Why Does DBT Work?

DBT focuses on skill building to help patients address problems. The goal of a DBT treatment plan is to learn more effective responses and behaviors when experiencing intense emotions. With learned tools and techniques, patients can accept themselves as they are while acknowledging they need to change to be functional in daily life. This is at the core of why DBT is successful. By promoting balanced thinking – self-acceptance and change – patients can create a more fulfilling life.

Where Can I Get DBT?

If you or a loved one needs help for a mental health issue, start by calling Banner Health’s Appointment Line at (602) 254-4357 or for information on Banner Health DBT services and schedules, call (602) 865-4862.