Mental health treatment is never a one-size-fits-all solution. The many different mental health disorders experienced by hundreds of thousands of people mean that no two cases are exactly alike. As a result, clinicians use a wide variety of psychotherapy approaches to work with a broad range of people and their experiences.
Dialectical behavior therapy is one of these specialized therapeutic approaches. It helps when other modalities aren’t as effective or successful. Radical acceptance in DBT is one component of this form of psychotherapy. What is radical acceptance in DBT, who does it help, and how can you find an effective program if you need help?
What is DBT?
Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is an alternative form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that prioritizes emotional regulation. Teaching clients to identify and regulate their emotions leads to improved interpersonal relationships, decreased stress, reduced risk of self-injury and suicidality, and greater overall mindfulness and mental wellbeing.1
Who Does DBT Help?
DBT originated as a form of treatment for individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Borderline personality disorder is characterized by the troubles it causes with managing and expressing emotions. When CBT proved to not be as effective at helping individuals manage their disorder, clinicians developed DBT as a supplemental approach.1
Today DBT is used to treat more than just BPD. It’s helpful when working with clients who have conditions like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. Individuals who struggle with risky behaviors often find that DBT is a helpful part of their path to recovery.
How Does Radical Acceptance in DBT Work?
Radical acceptance is an acceptance intervention taught in dialectical behavior therapy. Dialectical behavior therapy functions by using a combination of both change-based and acceptance-based solutions for managing a mental health disorder.2 Change-based solutions include problem-solving, shifting thoughts, changing behaviors, or adjusting the environment. Acceptance-based solutions include learning to be mindful of emotions, tolerating distress, and radical acceptance.
Radical acceptance encourages clients to move toward acceptance of the present moment exactly as it is. Oftentimes people try to force things to change or dig their heels in and resist what’s happening, but radical acceptance helps clients develop a more neutral response.
Learning and embracing radical acceptance is a difficult but rewarding task. It isn’t easy to accept unfavorable situations, especially when there seems to be a more favorable outcome. But pushing against reality will always cause distress and make it more difficult to regulate emotions.
DBT and Radical Acceptance at LifeSkills South Florida
Seeking mental health treatment at LifeSkills South Florida can be your first step to freedom if you’re struggling with your mental health. We center our approach around evidence-based programs and adapt our services to meet the needs of each individual who comes into our care. Our facilities provide both residential treatment and outpatient programs to help in the ways best suited for you.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Improved Emotion Regulation in Dialectical Behavior Therapy Reduces Suicide Risk in Youth.
- Psychiatry (Edgmont). (2006). Dialectical Behavior Therapy.