Family therapy focuses on improving the dynamics and relationships within a family system. It recognizes that individuals are deeply influenced by their family environment, and problems or conflicts within the family can have a significant impact on their emotional well-being and mental health.
What is DBT-Informed Family Therapy?
DBT-Informed Family Therapy is a specialized approach that combines the principles of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) with evidence-based techniques tailored to families. DBT, originally designed to treat individuals with emotional dysregulation, has proven to be highly effective in improving emotional awareness, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance. When applied to family therapy, it offers a unique framework for resolving conflicts, enhancing communication, and fostering emotional intimacy.
Family therapy at CWML incorporates the principles and skills of DBT. The core DBT skills are taught and reinforced in a personalized way, so that every member of the family has the tools they need to better manage their emotions and interpersonal conflicts. DBT Informed Family therapy includes the following key elements:
Family members are taught mindfulness techniques to increase their awareness of their thoughts, emotions, and reactions. This improved awareness can lead to better self-regulation and a greater understanding of how emotions influence family dynamics.
Validation is a cornerstone of DBT, and it involves recognizing and acknowledging someone else's emotions and experiences. Teaching family members to validate each other's feelings can create a more supportive and understanding family dynamic. DBT also helps family members identify and reduce invalidating behaviors, which can be a source of distress within the family.
The therapist often assigns homework and skills-building exercises that family members can practice between sessions. This encourages consistent practice of DBT skills in real-life situations.
Family members are taught to identify and understand their emotional triggers and responses, and coached in the skills needed to manage and regulate intense emotions. Improved emotion regulation leads to more productive and less reactive communication within the family.
Family members are taught how to express their needs and boundaries assertively, while maintaining respect for others' perspectives. Improved communication can reduce misunderstandings and defuse conflicts. DBT provides strategies for resolving conflicts in a way that promotes understanding and compromise. These skills are particularly invaluable for addressing issues that may have been sources of ongoing tension within the family.
In cases where family members are also receiving individual therapy, the family therapist will often collaborate with their therapists to ensure a cohesive treatment approach. This is an important part of how we work as a team at CWML.
Families are assisted in developing strategies to cope with distressing situations and crises. This often includes helping them to create a plan that outlines how they can support each other during particularly difficult times. These skills help family members better navigate conflicts and crises, without escalating or resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
DBT encourages individuals to find a middle ground when conflicts arise. This skill helps family members bridge differences and work together toward common goals.
This approach is especially valuable when a member of the family is dealing with behavioral challenges, as it acknowledges the interconnectedness of family dynamics and the potential for positive change through shared effort.
How can DBT-Informed Family Therapy help you?
Family therapy can be particularly helpful because it provides a safe and structured space for family members to openly communicate, express their feelings, and work collaboratively to address issues. It encourages understanding, empathy, and the development of effective communication and problem-solving skills among family members. By identifying and resolving conflicts and improving overall family functioning, family therapy can lead to enhanced emotional support, healthier relationships, and improved mental health outcomes for all family members involved.
Incorporating DBT into family therapy requires a skilled therapist who is knowledgeable in both DBT principles and family systems dynamics. The goal is to create a supportive and validating environment within the family, while equipping its members with the tools to manage emotions, communicate effectively, and navigate conflicts constructively. Over time, these skills can lead to improved family functioning and healthier relationships.
At CWML, all of the therapists on our team are intensively trained in DBT and are committed to helping the families they work with build healthier, more fulfilling relationships. We provide a safe and supportive environment where you can explore your challenges, develop new skills, and work toward a more loving and connected family system.
Our goal is to empower you to lead a life that is balanced, fulfilling, and meaningful, an approach to life we call Wise Mind Living.