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THE 'D' IN DBT


The 'D' in DBT stands for dialectical, which relates to dialectics. Dialectics do not relate to dialects, which is likely a word we are more commonly accustomed to, though they share the common origins of conversing. Dialectics are a philosophical concept of seemingly opposing forces that can co-exist. The reason this word and concept have become so integral in DBT as to be included in the name is because often these opposing forces can be sources of confusion, frustration and distress. Dialectics state that there is no absolute truth and seeks to view things from multiple perspectives to establish a reasoned understanding. Recognising the grey area that exists everywhere even when we do not want to.


A common dialectic (that I am yet to find anyone that has never related to) is feeling that you love someone but you hate them at the same time. A very confusing feeling indeed.


A key dialectic in DBT is the understanding that both acceptance and change are required to move forward from suffering.


Overall, the concept of dialectics is used in DBT to try and become aware of when we are falling into the trap of only seeing things one way (often when in acute distress), all-or-nothing or black and-white thinking. Once awareness develops, rather than being drawn into a tug of war between the two, the opposing forces can be observed and allowed to exist simultaneously. Neither are fully 'true' and you do not need to choose between them. Using the first example, you can feel that you hate them right now because they for instance done something you do not like, however you can still love them too.


DBT accepts that people are always doing the best they can and that they can also work harder and do even better. In this way DBT understands the dialectic of acceptance and change.

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