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NYC Dialectical Behavior Therapy Practitioners Help Many To Lead Normal Lives

By Joyce Sanders

There have always been members in any society that display behaviour that are deemed destructive and disruptive. Many of these people are suicidal, others harm themselves regularly and many others suffer from severe mood disorders. Unfortunately, society often shun these sufferers, thinking them mad or anti social. It is true, however, that they can be diagnosed and treated. In NYC dialectical behavior therapy has helped many mentally ill patients to once again enjoy life.

DBT methods were first developed by Marsha Linehan, associated with the Washington University. Her initial goal was to develop a way to treat patients with borderline personality disorders. Very soon, however, studies and empirical research showed that this method is also highly effective in treating patients with a wide variety of disorders, including chronically suicidal patients and those with severe mood swings and tendencies to harm themselves physically.

DBT is a fusion of standard cognitive techniques that are used to help patients regulate their emotions. However, these techniques are augmented by further methods derived from meditative Buddhist practices. Patients are introduced to the concepts of distress tolerance, mental awareness and acceptance. Clinical tests have shown that this combination of treatment techniques produce extremely positive results with fewer patients attempting suicide or self harm and a much lower drop out rate from treatment programs.

DBT generally consist of two main components. The first is individual weekly psychotherapy sessions. During these sessions the patients is encouraged to gain control over his emotions, to develop a sense of self worth and to recognize situations that can cause severe emotional reactions. Patients are encouraged to take positive steps to increase their overall quality of life. In between sessions the patient always have telephone access to the therapist.

The other components consists of once a week group sessions lasting more than two hours each. In these sessions patients learn that they are not the only once suffering from destructive behaviour patterns. They share their experiences and the encourage each other to apply techniques that will help them control any destructive impulses. A high premium is also placed on teaching patients how to interact within a group.

The length of a treatment program will depend solely on the progress that the patients makes and the severity of the disorders that he suffers from. Many patients refuse to admit that they are suffering from one or more disorders that render them unable to function within society. In such cases treatment is extremely difficult. Some practitioners argue that some patients need to be forced into treatment.

DBT has some critics too. They say that therapists design their programs to deal with a single disorder. This will not produce results, they say, because most patients suffer from a number of disorders that must all be treated simultaneously. Critics also lament the fact that no research is conducted to follow up the progress of patients that have completed treatment programs.

There can be no doubt that numerous patients have been helped by DBT. Most of them will be able to lead productive lives and to act as responsible members of society. It is important to keep in mind that these patients suffer from a recognized condition. It can be treated, just like a medical condition can be treated.

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