The MLRA Therapy Blog

Insights and ideas from the therapist team at Meghan L. Reitz and Associates.

DBT: What is it? Help for Bipolar Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder

What is DBT? Dialectical Behavior Therapy is "combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice (" It has been shown to be effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Self-Injury, and other mood disorders. It was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan beginning in the 1970s. Techniques derived from this type of therapy can be very helpful in managing symptoms of personality and mood disorders. If you are a therapist, it is encouraged to learn more about these techniques to incorporate them into your practice if you are not already aware of DBT. If you are a patient/client, ask your therapist if they do any DBT techniques. This could really decrease your symptoms if you fall under the category of any of the above mentioned disorders.

Part of DBT is a technique called mindfulness. It helps you to practice and utilize focusing on an innocuous item or topic. By doing this, you can center your attention away from desires to seek attention negatively, self-harm, use substances, wallow in depressed/angry moods, etc. A good website on DBT is In particular, try observing your environment, describe/express your environment, and fully participate in your environment. It is important to do these things without judgment, try focusing on one thing in your environment, and to be "effective" in doing it.

Mindfulness is just one skill under the DBT umbrella. There are many other pieces to it. It is encouraged to research this further to gain a better understanding of the other skills it uses. You can find a lot on internet; however, make sure if you are trying to utilize these skills to get assistance from a professional savvy in DBT.


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1. Sue wrote:
(Paperback) I am a mental heltah professional and work with people who live with Bipolar Disorder. I have facilitated a DBT program for over five years. This new book by Sheri VanDijk and Karma Guindon presents the DBT concepts in easy to read, plain language. She uses examples that are relevant to teen readers which makes it fun to read, as well. The book provides lots of interesting exercises to help the reader understand the impact of Bipolar Disorder on their thoughts,feelings and behaviors as well as offering many practical suggestions for using skills to improve quality of life. I found this an inspiring and hopeful resource dedicated to teens. I highly recommend this workbook!

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