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Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work For Anxiety?

Yes, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be an effective method of treatment for anxiety. According to Psychology Today, “anxiety is built into our primate origins as a warning system.” It is the body’s natural response to stress. The Oxford English Dictionary defines anxiety as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Anxiety is an unavoidable fact of life, as very individual will experience stress at some point. Still, there is a notable difference between sporadically experiencing anxiety and suffering from an anxiety disorder where one’s anxiety becomes excessively pervasive. 

Anxiety Disorders

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine anxiety disorders affect up to 18% of the population, making it the most common mental health condition in the United States. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asserts: “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) list five distinct types of anxiety disorders, which are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). There is a variety of treatment approaches, including a wide array of therapeutic modalities, such as DBT, that can help an individual learn effective coping mechanisms and anxiety management strategies to prevent, reduce, and even become more resilient towards anxiety.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy is a comprehensive, evidence-based treatment that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, in the late 1980s, to more effectively treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT was originally developed with a focus on emotion regulation which is closely tied to one’s ability to manage anxiety. It combines techniques from western cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psycho-educational modules, and eastern mindfulness-based practices to foster the systematic learning of new emotional coping skills. DBT focuses on cultivating therapeutic skills in four main areas, known as the four modules, which are: 

  • Core mindfulness: focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment
  1. Distress tolerance: focuses on increasing an individual’s ability to tolerate pain that may arise from difficult situations, as opposed to trying to change and/ or escape it
  2. Interpersonal effectiveness: focuses on teaching techniques that enable a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and simultaneously strengthens relationships
  3. Emotion regulation: focuses on decreasing emotional impulsivity by shifting intense emotion without reacting instinctively to them

This therapeutic intervention utilizes a multifaceted approach that consists of weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching between sessions. DBT offers both the ability to provide personalized therapeutic support through the individual therapy sessions, as well as peer support in DBT skills training group therapy sessions. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD, and its efficacy has also expanded to other ailments. Clinical findings indicate that DBT is increasingly used as an effective approach for managing anxiety and related issues. 

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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