Created by Marsha Linehan, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, “DBT,” is a cognitive behavior treatment method that was originally developed for handling suicide idealization, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder and other psychological problems. These DBT therapy techniques have proven to be very useful and DBT has been deemed the gold standard for handling psychological problems including, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse. It is one of many effective chronic pain treatments for those who have any kind of chronic pain syndrome.
What Skills Does DBT Self Help Focus On?
DBT has four sets of behavioral skills:
Mindfulness: the practice of being present and aware in the moment
Distress Tolerance:how to tolerate difficult and painful situations without changing them
Interpersonal Effectiveness teaches you how to say no and ask for what you need while maintaining self respect and upholding the value of preexisting
Emotion Regulation gives you the ability to change your emotions and feelings
There is evidence that using DBT can be very effective for pain relief. It can be helpful to calming the anxiety of those dealing with chronic pain during flare-ups and can lead to less medication and less pain overall. Chronic pain warriors have found DBT to be an excellent resource for treating pain. Here is a good resource to learn more about DBT self help, it is amazing what you can accomplish by using your DBT skills daily.
Dialectical is defined as a integration or synthesis of opposites. DBT centers around seemingly opposite strategies of change and acceptance. For example, one DBT skill is titled, “radical acceptance,” it is defined as accepting the things you cannot change whether you like them or not. In the case of chronic pain that might be accepting your pain for what it is despite disliking it and pain being very uncomfortable.
Another skill involves doing something you do not want to do. For instance, perhaps you do not want to go on a walk, you want to stay home instead. Opposite to emotion action is the skill used when you go ahead and go on that walk instead of staying home. Engaging in opposite to emotion action when dealing with pain can be very useful because it is designed to push you slightly out of your comfort zone without overdoing and fosters an environment for change.
Upon accepting that you are currently in pain, no matter how unpleasant it might be, and wish it wasn’t here we can turn our sights onto ways to improve the situation in the moment. Based on a variety of strategies and principles DBT can help because emotional pain and physical pain are often interrelated. Living with physical pain can be exceptionally taxing. Plus, the symptoms of pain are exacerbated when we have emotional difficulties. If you have chronic pain you might find that you are already using the skills of DBT self help, naturally, without noticing it.
Distraction activities are when you participate in something that removes the focus from your pain onto something else. Research shows there are huge reductions in the experience of pain when a person engages in an entertaining and positive activity. This is one of those things you may have noticed on your own while living with pain. With distraction activities you can put your pain on the back burner and have a little fun.
Self-Soothing is when you take time to engage all of your senses in pampering activities. Pain warriors can benefit from these deep relaxation techniques. Tune into your body with awareness and allow yourself to relax without judgment. As you breathe and thoughts come to mind, notice them, and then calmly return your focus onto your breath. This will soothe your body and mind and elicits a response of relaxation where your muscles relax and relieve pain.
Radical Acceptance is the willingness to see things for what they are instead of fighting reality. The reality is chronic pain is a daily challenge and it makes sense that you might want to change things. However, getting bent out of shape about your situation helps no one. Instead, it is important to notice the moment for what is right now and even if you dislike it you have the power to accept it. This theory runs deep and can apply to many aspects of chronic pain.
Opposite to Emotion Action is engaging activities you don’t like but know will help you. It is difficult to disengage pain. This effective DBT skill helps people’s ability to encourage themselves to do something that has helped in the past instead of reaching for a pill first. It might seem like you cannot do anything when you are in pain but when you engage this skill consistently the results are profound.
Effectiveness means that you identify a goal and do it just enough or not too much or too little to be effective. When you are working to conserve your energy because of the widespread pain consider your goals and take deliberate small steps to achieve those goals. This allows you to conserve your energy and figure out your top priority, keep your focus, and rather than being derailed by self-imposed judgments or “shoulds” you can realistic adapt and reach your goals.
Let go of Suffering is when you note your experience without attaching any emotion to it. Being able to observe your emotions as waves versus denying yourself to think about them, feel them, or feeding them with continuous negative self-talk helps allows you to calmly deal with your feelings. Intense pain is hard to handle. Experiencing pain with judgment will only make things worse. Next time you find yourself judging your pain, try to let go of suffering and free yourself from the negativity.
Don’t be defeated by a chronic pain diagnosis. Living well with pain requires you to accept the moment for what it is and work towards positive change at the exact same time. Research has proven DBT self help to be effective in reducing pain for warriors.
Danielle Faith is a graduate of the The University of California, Los Angeles with a Degree in Cultural Geography. She know how your location in life (race, religion, economic status, etc.,) influences how you view the world.
Today, Danielle Faith is freelance writer and marketing consultant. She specializes in new media marketing and self-improvement. Not to mention, she has a knack for clarity, and over ten years of experience. Danielle has personal experience with chronic pain and illness.
Danielle is a survivor and optimist as well as persistent and driven. When she puts her mind to something it gets done. When she is not writing or checking what’s new on social media, she’s listening to music and relaxing with her dog.