Treating personality disorders with Dialectical behavior therapy by Sharilynn Hanslo


A society of untreated mental illnesses affects everyone.

Treatment for BPD and other personality disorders

In terms of treatment, most personality disorders involve some type of psychotherapy- talk therapy. This type of treatment effectively treats most personality disorders such as BPD, Histrionic, stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, addiction, bipolar disorder, negative behavior patterns, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia. Psychotherapy is the most common and effective treatment choice for HPD. This kind of therapy involves talking to a therapist about your feelings and experiences. Such talks can help you and your therapist determine the reasoning behind your actions and behaviors.

What does Dialectical behavior therapy focus on improving?

  • Learning to properly identify and label emotions
  • Identifying obstacles to changing emotions
  • Reducing vulnerability to “emotion mind”
  • Increasing positive emotional events
  • Increasing mindfulness to current emotions
  • Taking opposite action
  • Applying distress tolerance techniques

Treating BPD with DBT ( Dialectical Behavior Therapy )

Since other forms of psychotherapy were not as effective, particularly in cases where Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) was meant to assist women with a history of chronic suicide attempts, suicidal ideation, urges to self-harm, and self-mutilation, DBT was implanted as an additional treatment.

The Development of DBT was created by Marsha M. Linehan (1993). people’s arousal levels increase far more quickly than the average person’s. Some people are prone to react more intensely to what usually is considered a normal situation. People prone to overreaction within the cluster B personality are mainly people with a borderline personality disorder or Histoinic personality disorder. For additional information regarding Cluster B personalities, refer to my article below.

How DBT ( Dialectical Behavior Therapy ) work

DBT emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of treatment. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) treatment is a type of psychotherapy — or talk therapy — that utilizes a cognitive-behavioral approach. Generally, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) may be seen as having two main components:  

Individual weekly psychotherapy sessions emphasize problem-solving behavior for the past week’s issues and troubles that arose in the person’s life. Self-injurious and suicidal behaviors take priority, followed by behaviors that may interfere with the therapy process. Quality of life issues and working toward improving life, in general, may also be discussed. Individual sessions in DBT also focus on decreasing and dealing with post-traumatic stress responses (from previous trauma in the person’s life) and helping enhance their own self-respect and self-image.

Therapy/ post-therapy

Between and during sessions, the therapist actively teaches and reinforces adaptive behaviors, especially as they occur within the therapeutic relationship[…]. The emphasis is on teaching patients how to manage emotional trauma rather than reducing or taking them out of crisesWeekly group therapy sessions, generally 2 1/2 hours a session which is led by a trained DBT therapist. In these weekly group therapy sessions, people learn skills from one of four different modules: interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance/reality acceptance skills, emotion regulation, and mindfulness skills are taught.  

Support based therapy

  • Support-oriented: It helps a person identify their strengths and builds on them to feel better about themself and their lives.
  • Cognitive-based: DBT helps identify thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder: “I have to be perfect at everything.” “If I get angry, I’m a terrible person” & helps people to learn different ways of thinking that will make life more bearable: “I don’t need to be perfect at things for people to care about me,” “Everyone gets angry, it’s a normal emotion.

Collaborative based therapy

  • Collaborative: It requires constant attention to relationships between clients and staff. In DBT, people are encouraged to work out problems in their relationships with their therapist and the therapists to do the same with them. DBT asks people to complete homework assignments, role-play new ways of interacting with others, and practice skills such as soothing yourself when upset. These skills, a crucial part of DBT, are taught in weekly lectures, reviewed in weekly homework groups, and referred to in nearly every group. The individual therapist helps the person to learn, apply and master the DBT skills.
  • Mindfulness- The essential part of all skills taught in the skills group is the core mindfulness skills.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The interpersonal response patterns –how you interact with the people around you and in your personal relationships — that are taught in DBT skills training share similarities to those taught in some assertiveness and interpersonal problem-solving classes. These skills include effective strategies for asking for what one needs, how to assertively say ‘no,’ and learning to cope with inevitable interpersonal conflict.

Distress Tolerance

Most approaches to mental health treatment focus on changing distressing events and circumstances. They have paid little attention to accepting, finding meaning for, and tolerating distress. This task has generally been tackled by religious and spiritual communities and leaders. Dialectical behavior therapy emphasizes learning to bear pain skillfully. Distress tolerance skills constitute a natural development from mindfulness skills. They have to do with the ability to accept, in a non-evaluative and nonjudgmental fashion, both oneself and the current situation. Although the stance advocated here is a nonjudgmental one, this does not mean that it is one of approval: acceptance of reality is not approval of reality.

Distress tolerance behaviors are concerned with tolerating and surviving crises and accepting life as it is in the moment. Four sets of crisis survival strategies are taught: distracting, self-soothing, improving the moment, and thinking of pros and cons. Acceptance skills include radical acceptance, turning the mind towards acceptance.

If you or a loved one are in distress and thinking of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential 24/7 support, information, and resources. You are not alone

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

(800) 273-8255


This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice: diagnoses or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health care provider with questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read on the internet

For additional information regarding BPD refer to my below article where I explore the complex nature of the disorder.

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