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What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy Training?

Some people with borderline personality disorder are treated using dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2014
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Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) training is education for mental health professionals interested in offering DBT to their clients. It provides information for experienced care providers on how to use this therapeutic approach, and is typically aimed at care providers who are already qualified and practicing. Numerous trainings and seminars for dialectical behavior therapy training can be found around the world in settings like educational institutions, research centers, and psychotherapy programs.

In dialectical behavior therapy training, care providers learn how to use DBT to work with clients who have borderline personality disorder (BPD), although it can also be applied to the treatment of other personality disorders. This approach to therapy has its roots in cognitive behavior therapy, an approach that works on modifying harmful behaviors to help patients manage their mental illnesses. Patients with BPD often have a history of invalidation and rejection, and DBT provides validation and acceptance as part of the practice to keep patients in therapy, rather than making them feel invalidated by the therapy, which can force them to drop out.

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There are two different components to DBT, and both are covered in dialectical behavior therapy training. The first is psychotherapy, in the form of individual sessions with patients and their care providers, both in person and over the phone. Patients typically keep diaries and charts, set goals, and work with their therapists to identify and modify behaviors. The first priority is a reduction in self-harming behaviors, followed by those which are considered therapy interfering, and then work on improving the patient's quality of life.

This is paired with regular group sessions for skills training in different areas of life. Dialectical behavior therapy training emphasizes the team nature of the treatment by working with therapists in groups as they start to develop strategies for working with patients in groups and one-on-one. Patients and therapists work cooperatively in an allied relationship in DBT. This can differ from some other kinds of therapeutic relationships where the therapist may be an absolute authority, rather than a cooperative partner.

Therapists in dialectical behavior therapy training learn about the issues specific to caring with patients who have BPD, and discuss ways to avoid and minimize problems that may arise during therapy. Therapists assume the best about their patients and stress that all patients are working on self improvement. Their patients cannot fail at the therapy as a whole although they may have off days or weeks. The therapists also stress affirmation and support through techniques like meditation and mindful thinking, to help their patients deal with the sometimes overwhelming emotions associated with BPD.

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