Posts tagged ‘DBT’

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Bipolar Disorder

If you are familiar with DBT, you probably know that it was developed for the treatment of borderline personality disorder(BPD). Borderline is considered one of the worst, if not THE worst, personality disorders to have. This is because borderline clients are notoriously difficult, they often do not view themselves as sick, and even if they do they have a very hard time changing because by definition the disorder is entrenched in their personality.

So what does this have to do with bipolar? I’m getting there. I myself have never been diagnosed as borderline (although I do have a diagnosis of ‘Personality Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified’), probably due to the stigma attached to it. I do have enough self-honesty and insight to look at the DSM criteria for BPD and see myself in almost every blinkin’ one. You could say I have a strong suspicion that I have BPD, along with being bipolar. In fact, I began to suspect I was borderline long before I ever guessed my mood swings could indicate bipolar disorder.

One principle I strongly believe is that we must take responsibility for our own healing — for getting our needs met. Psychiatrists and therapists can help but they are *just* helpers. They are the subcontractors in the reconstruction of our lives and our psyches. We are the contractors. This is a very powerful concept! It means that I get to decide what is the best way to approach resolution of my issues.

With that in mind, I poked through bookstores and researched on the Internet and I came across something called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It is a framework for treating BPD that focuses on dialectics (opposites, or extremes), and combines them to help the borderline client achieve moderation (since lack of moderation is a hallmark of BPD). It teaches how to modify emotional states and techniques for interpersonal effectiveness. In short, it addresses many of the same issues that are characteristic of bipolar disorder!

In my growth process I have learned that the best way to judge a particular therapeutic technique is “does it work?” I believe that the techniques outlined in DBT can work for individuals with bipolar disorder. If you are interested in trying them out for yourself, here’s the book to look for:
Skills Training Manual for Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan.
Just say Lunar Moth sent ya! 🙂

June 19, 2008 at 10:18 am Leave a comment


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