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Dialectical Behavior Therapy - A Basic Introduction

Provo Canyon School

Located in Springville and Provo, Utah, the Provo Canyon School provides academic instruction and therapeutic intervention to children at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. In the high school girls’ program, Provo Canyon School incorporates dialectical behavior therapy when appropriate.

Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a cognitive behavioral treatment methodology that improves social and emotional regulation in clients with frequent intense feeling states. The method is based on the idea that some individuals experience higher levels of emotional arousal in certain situations, and that this predisposition can lead to impulsive and maladaptive behaviors.

To help the client manage this emotional reaction, DBT uses a combination of individual psychotherapy and group skills-based therapy. The standard DBT program leads the client through four modules, the most foundational being mindfulness. This module teaches the DBT participant to live non-judgmentally in the present moment, notice his or her emotions, and practice awareness rather than reactivity.
From mindfulness, the DBT participant moves on to interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation modules. Each focuses on empowering the client to accept his or her own experiences without immediately acting on intense emotions. Instead, the client learns to manage those emotions so that he or she can act in an adaptive way and preserve key relationships, including the relationship with the self.

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