Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Understanding and Overcoming Trauma Through Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

Understanding and Overcoming Trauma Through Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

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Trauma can be treated using regular therapy. However, is it possible for it to be done using dialectical behavioural therapy? This guide will go over what dialectical behavioural therapy is and how it can be used to overcome trauma. 

This kind of behavioural therapy may be unfamiliar to most. However, it’s a reminder that you have options in terms of how your trauma and mental disorders are treated. If you need more information about dialectical behavioural therapy, head to the Absolute Awakenings site to learn more. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into the topic of trauma and dialectical behavioural therapy.

What is dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavioural therapy or DBT is intended to change a person’s behaviours, thoughts, and beliefs. Especially when they are in a negative sense, which is often associated with mental disorders such as PTSD.

This is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), although it’s more of a modified version. There are a few approaches to DBT (which will cover in a moment). One of the cornerstones of DBT is mindfulness. 

Mindfulness is designed to help you become more aware and focus on the present. This is often associated with meditative therapy and using your senses to detect what’s going on in your immediate area. Indeed, mindfulness is proven to help people mentally.

But the real question is: does this kind of approach help those who have dealt with traumatic events? Many believe that it is possible. Mindfulness exercises can be designed to help you stay calm while keeping impulsive behaviours and negative thought patterns at bay.

What are the stages of DBT?

There are four stages of DBT that a person will go through during the treatment process. We will explain each one in detail so you know what to expect should you utilise this kind of therapy. Let’s begin with how the first stage will be done:

  • Stage 1: Acquiring stability. At the start of the treatment, the goal will be achieving self-stability. To do this, you will need to focus on getting rid of behaviours that are considered serious and even self-destructive. These also include behaviours that lead to self-harm or suicide. Meanwhile, you will also learn how to build certain skills that will allow you to tolerate certain issues related to your trauma (namely thoughts or reminders of the event). At the outset, you may be avoiding persons, places, or activities that may trigger these reminders. You will need to build a level of tolerance to know that the trauma-related issue is there. And you have what it takes to acknowledge it and move on with your day.
  • Stage 2: Emotional focus. Now, we focus on the emotional aspect of your trauma. The intent here is to get rid of the feelings of worthlessness, shame, and judgment surrounding your disorder. You will learn to manage your stress and emotions to a point where it can be done on a regular basis. Distress can also occur and you will be able to learn how to tolerate it more often. You will feel like you have a newfound ability in handling it compared to beforehand.
  • Stage 3: Relationships and general living. At this stage, the focus now shifts to two major things: your interpersonal relationships and living your everyday life. The intent here is to help you increase your levels of self-esteem and self-reliance. Meanwhile, you will have the opportunity to learn how to solve problems. You’ll learn strategies to solve them, whether they are simple or complex. Another thing that you will also be focusing on is improving relationships. These relationships involve your family members and close friends. Improving them will be key in your efforts to overcome trauma. That’s because you need a strong support system to help you get through it all. They may have a basic understanding of what you have gone through. And you’ll have people in your life that will stick by you when things don’t seem to be going too well (whether it be a bad day or a slightly longer time period).
  • Stage 4: Fulfillment. The fourth and final stage is designed to help people build and live their life to the fullest. The goal here is to continue further strengthening their most important relationships. On top of that, they should also be able to focus on achieving their individual life goals (whatever they may be). At this point, you already have noted instances of thoughts about the traumatic event. And you are able to handle any issues associated with it. You are confident in managing your trauma and are able to speak about it with someone you can trust. Regardless, you are living a normal life. You are not letting trauma control you at this point.

Is DBT right for you?

The challenge here is determining whether or not DBT may be a good option for you. This kind of therapy is complex. This means it can’t be done on your own, but rather through guidance from a professional that offers this kind of therapeutic option. 

However, performing mindfulness exercises on your own isn’t out of the question. It can put you at an advantage. It can also determine if you are a good candidate for DBT.

Regardless, if you are dealing with a mental health issue involving trauma, getting the professional help you need is always the best option.

Final thoughts 

DBT can be useful for those who have dealt with trauma. It may not be for everyone, though. It’s important to consider your options when it comes to overcoming the challenge of getting the treatment that best matches your personal needs.

If you are willing to take a mindfulness approach to handle your trauma, DBT could be a good therapy option to use. Be sure to ask a mental health professional about DBT if you have any questions about it. 

When it comes to dealing with trauma, there are ways to go about treating it. Make sure you do your own research on whether or not DBT may be the best option forward.

Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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