Thursday, February 16, 2012

What does it mean if a program says they "do Dialectical Behavior Therapy"?

We recently came across an article which asked the question, What does it mean if a program says they "do Dialectical Behavior Therapy"? The multidisciplinary team at McCallum Place's outpatient clinic, Webster Wellness Professionals, offers the only specialized Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) services for disordered eating in the state that have been certified by the Missouri Department of Health. We wanted to answer this question, but first, let's talk about what DBT is.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT?

DBT is an effective treatment combining behavioral, cognitive, and supportive therapies. While DBT was originally designed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., to treat Borderline Personality Disorder, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts/behaviors, it has since been proven effective for a number of additional disorders, such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, substance abuse disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. DBT’s balance of acceptance, validation, and warmth with change-oriented approaches creates a supportive atmosphere for growth.

One of the main reasons people engage in desperate behaviors is to feel better or survive an overwhelming situation. Individuals with eating disorders often struggle with other self-destructive behaviors, such as self-injury and substance abuse, in addition to their eating disorder behaviors. These behaviors can become one’s primary means of coping with life because they have not learned effective alternatives that actually work. While these desperate behaviors may provide short-term relief, the long term costs to personal health, self-esteem, identity, mood, relationships, life accomplishments, and spiritual growth are far too great. It is impossible to fully experience and enjoy life while these behaviors are present. In DBT, a variety of skills are taught and practiced in each of the categories below, allowing you the freedom to break the cycle of self-destructive coping.
  • Mindfulness- Being present and focused, learning to control your mind so it doesn’t control you
  • Emotion Regulation- Emotional acceptance, decreasing emotional vulnerabilities, and regulating emotions effectively
  • Distress Tolerance- Surviving crisis situations without making them worse
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness- Handling conflict, asking for what you need effectively, and setting limits with others

Who can benefit from DBT for Eating Disorders?

If you have an eating disorder and struggle with any of the following, one of our DBT options may be right for you.
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Hiding your emotions from others
  • Feeling numb or empty much of the time
  • Binge eating/ Feeling out of control when eating
  • Purging (self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, etc.)
  • Restriction of food intake
  • Recurrent self-injury or suicidal thoughts and/or actions
  • Substance abuse or other addictive/impulsive behaviors
  • Difficulties with relationships and trusting others

DBT for Eating Disorders (DBT-ED) Group at Webster Wellness Professionals

DBT-ED is designed for those struggling with binge eating, purging, food restriction, and potentially other self-destructive behaviors that stem from emotion regulation difficulties.
DBT-ED includes:
  • Weekly individual sessions with a DBT specialist focused on support, motivation for treatment, reviewing target behaviors, and problem solving.
  • Weekly skills training group to learn and practice MINDFULNESS, EMOTION REGULATION, DISTRESS TOLERANCE, and INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS skills.
  • Coaching, as needed, involve contact with your individual therapist between sessions to strengthen and generalize the skills you have learned into your real life… where it matters most!

DBT for Emotional Overeating (DBT-EO)

DBT-EO is designed for those struggling primarily with binge eating or emotional overeating. It consists of an initial individual pre-treatment session, followed by weekly skills training groups where you will learn and practice MINDFULNESS, EMOTION REGULATION, DISTRESS TOLERANCE, and INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS SKILLS. Individual DBT sessions and coaching as listed above may be offered, but are not required for group participation.

To learn more about how Webster Wellness Professionals provides effective eating disorder and emotional overeating treatment from a Dialectical Behavior Therapy perspective, please call us 314-737-4070. As a leading eating disorder treatment center in St. Louis, our professional staff can help determine the best treatment for each individual by using a combination of effective, evidence-based techniques and therapies.

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