What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy the Mental Health Treatment Selena Gomez Is Using?

After two hospitalizations, Gomez is reportedly seeking DBT.
Here’s what you should know about the unusual treatment
Photo: Frederick M.
Brown/Stringer/Getty Images After suffering an emotional breakdown
while in the hospital, Selena Gomez is seeking an unusual talk
therapy treatment used to help patients cope with negative thoughts
and behaviors, a source has confirmed to People. The 26-year-old
singer is undergoing dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a therapy
method designed to help identify, and then change, negative
thinking and behavioral patterns, the source says. (Related: Selena
Gomez Took to Instagram to Remind Fans That Her Life Isn’t Perfect)
The singer was hospitalized twice within the last few weeks, both
times for a low white blood cell count, which can be a side effect
for kidney transplant patients. (Gomez had a kidney transplant last
year after being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus.)
During her second recent hospital visit, Gomez suffered a panic
attack. “She has had a tough few weeks and the panic attack in the
hospital was the tipping point,” a source tells People. (Related:
Selena Gomez Seeking Treatment After Emotional Breakdown in
Hospital Following ‘Tough’ Few Weeks) TMZ also reports that Gomez
is undergoing DBT treatment—something that she has been open
about receiving in the past. “DBT has completely changed my
life,” she told Vogue in 2017. “I wish more people would talk
about therapy. We girls, we’re taught to be almost too resilient,
to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back, the girl who’s
down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart.” (Related: Selena
Gomez Opens Up About Her 5-Year Struggle with Depression) According
to Psychology Today, dialectical behavior therapy teaches how to
manage painful emotions and improve relationships by providing
clients with therapeutic skills in four key areas: mindfulness, or
the ability to accept and be present in the moment; distress
tolerance, or the ability to tolerate a negative emotion instead of
trying to escape from it; emotional regulation, or the ability to
manage and change intense and problematic emotions; and
interpersonal effectiveness, or the ability to “communicate with
others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and
strengthens relationships.” “DBT is a very concrete, very practical
treatment, and it’s focused on helping the client to increase their
coping capacity,” says Melissa Gerson, the founder and director of
Columbus Park Collaborate, an outpatient treatment center in New
York City with a comprehensive DBT program. Gerson tells People,
“It’s not necessarily about doing a lot of talking about the
emotional origins of your struggles or difficulties, but instead
it’s more about focusing on and increasing awareness of what’s
troubling you and awareness of what you’re feeling, and then
giving you a host of concrete and practical skills that you can use
in that moment.” Among those skills are self-soothing and emergency
crisis skills “that help you when your feelings are really at a
10,” says Gerson. According to the Mayo Clinic, dialectical
behavior therapy was developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan,
Ph.D., specifically to treat people with borderline personality
disorder. But Psychology Today notes that it has also been used
successfully to treat people experiencing depression, bulimia,
binge-eating, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and
substance abuse issues. Dialectical behavior therapy evolved from
Linehan’s efforts to improve on past treatments for suicidal women
that “were so focused on changing cognitions and behaviors that
many patients felt criticized, misunderstood, and invalidated and
consequently dropped out of treatment altogether,” according to a
National Center for Biotechnology Information article by Alexander
L. Chapman, Ph.D. (Related: ‘Taki Taki’ Stars Cardi B and DJ Snake
Send Selena Gomez Messages of Support After Hospitalization: ‘You
Are Amazing’) Photo: Angela Weiss/Getty Images DBT treatment
focuses on acceptance and change as its ultimate goals. It’s about
“being more aware in a nonjudgmental way of what you’re feeling in
the moment,” Gerson says. The treatment involves learning the
skills from a therapist in a group setting, and then meeting
individually with the therapist in between sessions. Patients also
typically track their feelings and behaviors on a diary card.
(Related: 6 Types of Therapy That Go Beyond a Couch Session) “It
takes about six months to get through a full cycle of DBT, to learn
all of the skills,” Gerson explains. “Typically it’s recommended
that after six months, you then repeat the cycle so you can
reinforce the skills. So, in general, it should be a one-year
treatment.” Gerson notes that although DBT is a time-limited
therapy that can be applied to your life in the moment, the
“big-picture” skills patients learn hopefully last a lifetime.
“There are a lot of skills that involve taking care of yourself,
self-soothing, bringing yourself back to baseline when you’re
feeling like your emotions may be getting out of control,” she
says. “These skills help you bring your behaviors under control
when you’re feeling emotionally very activated or very distressed.”
This story originally appeared on People.com by Tierney


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