The Effect of Dialectical Behavior Therapy on the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

4 April 2015
This paper explores Marsha Linehan’s treatment of borderline personality disorder in an extensive literature review.

The basis of this study looks at the effects of a therapy derived from eastern Zen practices and western psychodynamic theory, known as Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, on the treatment of patients afflicted with Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT is a treatment paradigm created by Marsha M. Linehan of Washington University, and is the first and only treatment paradigm to be tested in clinical settings. The importance of DBT stems from the belief that BPD is the most treatment-resistant of all mental disorders outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: Vol. IV. The study tests the hypothesis that DBT will effectively reduce targeted behaviors of BPD as compared to treatment as usual (TAU) groups, and suggests that because of the structured nature of DBT, it is the most effective of all present treatments of BPD.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the application of a broad array of cognitive and behavior therapy strategies to the problems of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), including suicidal behaviors (Heard & Linehan 1994). DBT also has a number of distinctive defining characteristics. As its name suggests, its overriding characteristic is an emphasis on dialectics – that is, the reconciliation of opposites in a continual process of synthesis. The most fundamental dialectic is the necessity of accepting patients just as they are within a context of trying to teach them to change. This emphasis on acceptance as a balance to change flows directly from the integration of Eastern Zen practice with Western psychodynamic theory (Linehan 1993a).
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