Dialectical Thinking for Mental Health


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

You may have heard of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, also referred to as DBT, in mental health circles. This form of therapy uses dialectical thinking to help people who are dealing with a variety of mental health issues learn how to process their emotions in a way that does not create more traumatic stress for them.

Whether or not you suffer from a mental illness, practicing dialectical thinking can help you manage stress better, communicate better with the people you love, and become healthier and happier in your day-to-day life. Here are some resources from the experts!

What is Dialectical Thinking?

"In the most basic sense, dialectical refers to balance between opposites. We often fall into the habit of thinking of things in very “black and white” terms. We either love or hate something. We are either strong or weak. We are either happy or depressed. We either accept and move on, or reject and rebel. Dialectical thinking encourages us to consider that both of these things—which seem like opposites—can coexist, and that they can combine to create a “new” truth. Dialectics uses 'AND' instead of 'But.'"

—Dana Koonce, LMFT

READ MORE: How to Think and Act Dialectically

How Does DBT Work?

"DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas. First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual's ability to accept and be present in the current moment. Second, distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it. Third, emotion regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life. Fourth, interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships."

Psychology Today

READ MORE: Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Resources for Learning Dialectical Thinking

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