Dialectical behavioral therapy or DBT is a mindfulness-based psychotherapy, meaning the treatment rests upon DBT mindfulness skills, practices, attitudes and basic philosophy: the present moment is the anchor and the place where wisdom resides. DBT is part of the mindfulness movement and psychology’s third wave of behavior therapies:
- First wave: behavior therapy
- Second wave: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Third wave: mindfulness-based dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
DBT was created by a Zen Buddhist and self-described “hard core behaviorist”, the researcher and psychologist, Dr. Marsha Linehan. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is unique in that it is both spiritually laden and scientifically validated, which is why this treatment resonates with so many. DBT is an “evidence based” treatment which means DBT clients have good outcomes – they get better.
DBT’s mindfulness and spiritual underpinnings compliment Villa Kali Ma’s DBT mindfulness skills, practices, and philosophy towards treatment and recovery; to transform; to garner effective behavioral practices for a spiritually informed life based on one’s truth and values. As Marsha Linehan would say, “To practice dialectical behavior therapy is to participate in the present moment, and make effective behavioral choices in service of creating a life worth living.”
What Does “Dialectical” Mean?
In short, “dialectical” means that two things can be true at the same time, even things which might seemingly contradict one another. A dialectical belief is that all people have something unique, different and worthy to teach us, no matter who they are or what they have done. A woman can be both a divine loving soul with a meaningful life purpose, and someone who has made choices in the past which hurt people and herself.
The simplest definition of “dialectical” is “Both, And” (not either, or). Dialectical is often paradoxical. Being dialectical is consistent with being open-minded, releasing self-righteousness, “black and white” thinking, or “all or nothing” ways of seeing a situation; DBT is about both acceptance and change. Living life from a dialectical stance is about making effective moment to moment behavioral choices which foster a life consistent with one’s life worth living goals. This perspective is supportive of Villa Kali Ma’s emphasis on listening to the soul of each woman and fostering an environment wherein she is safe to hear this wise piece of herself.
Foundational to DBT is the concept of “Wise Mind.” Villa Kali Ma women will learn how to connect with and honor the wise mind which already resides within them. The Wise Mind is present within every human being; it is an intuitive knowing. Wise Mind is the place within where clarity abounds – the source where reason and emotion collaborate and stillness speaks. As Marsha Linehan says, “Everyone has a wise mind, if you look deep enough, you can always find it.”
Wise Mind and Addiction
Villa Kali Ma’s DBT mindfulness skills training programs help foster every woman’s Wise Mind – her intuitive wisdom – and recognize this as foundational and fundamental in releasing avoidant, habitual and harmful behaviors endemic to addiction. Wise Mind is the starting place for awakening and transformation into a life worth living. In fact, it is the wise mind who speaks in a woman’s “moment of clarity.” The Wise Mind is the voice which wakes her up from the nightmare of addiction. From wise mind consciousness, the addicted mind is overruled and the woman can finally speak the words, “I’m willing to go to treatment; I want help.”
Connecting to Wise Mind
At Villa Kali Ma, our DBT mindfulness skills training programs help women connect with this consciousness daily. We begin each day at the Villa with awakening rituals, mindfulness practices and meditations to foster and strengthen her connection to this consciousness, her Wise Mind, above all others. Likewise, our programs teach four sets skills, but the DBT mindfulness skills, which foster this connection to one’s Wise Mind, are the only skills that are repeated weekly and inform all other skills. Everything begins from her Wise Mind.
Four Sets of DBT Mindfulness Skills
1. Mindfulness Skills
Skills, attitudes and practices to foster a connection to wise mind consciousness and participate in the wisdom of the present moment.
2. Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills
Skills to create and keep healthy relationships, how to deal with interpersonal conflict, how to say no, how to validate and see another’s perspective, even if you do not agree with it, and how to ask for what you need effectively.
3. Emotional Regulation Skills
The goal of these skills is to reduce emotional suffering. Emotional regulation is not about getting rid of emotions, as they have important functions in a human being’s life. Instead these skills teach us how to understand emotions, change emotional responses, reduce our vulnerability to emotion mind and how to manage or reduce the intensity of the really difficult emotions.
4. Distress Tolerance Skills
Simply put, distress tolerance is the ability to survive a crisis without making it worse. These skills foster grit and endurance. Distress Tolerance Skills empower us to tolerate what we once would have termed intolerable, been overwhelmed by or maybe used/drank over. Life happens and it does not cease to happen when we get sober. These skills help us accept that there are some things we cannot change and provide in the moment practices to survive the crisis. We effectively weather the storm – without making things worse.
DBT Mindfulness Skills Promote Open-Minded Thinking
Dialectical means that two ideas can both be true at the same time:
- A life worth living has both comfortable and uncomfortable aspects (happiness and sadness; anger and peace; hope an discouragement; fear and ease; joy and sorrow).
- All points of view have both true and false within them.
- Two things that seem like opposites can both be true.
Dialectical Behavior Perspectives
- You are doing the best you can AND you need to try harder, do better, and be more motivated to change.
- You can take care of yourself AND you need help and support from others.
- You are right and the other person is right.
Being Dialectical Means
- Letting Go of perfection, self-righteousness, assumptions and blaming.
- Letting Go of “All or nothing” ways of seeing a situation.
- Looking for what is “left out” from your understanding of a situation.
DBT mindfulness skills are just one of the amazing recovery tools you will be introduced to at Villa Kali Ma. Join us today to begin your journey to freedom.