How Can Dialectical Behavior Therapy Help Me Become Self-Empowered?

Any type of psychological disorder can feel overwhelming and uncontrollable. These feelings can be intense during the early days of a disorder’s symptoms appearing. Someone with a mood disorder may understand those feelings intimately, as intense, uncontrollable emotions are a symptom of many mood disorders. Treatment for mood disorders often includes dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Learning DBT skills at Alter Behavioral Health can teach a person to regulate their emotions, as well as learn self-confidence and feel self-empowered in themselves.

Mood Disorders

There are many names for categories of psychological disorders or mental illnesses. Mood disorders are a common phrase to describe a category of mental health disorders that affects a person’s emotional state of mind or mood. This can, in turn, influence dysfunctional behavior. Having a mood disorder simply means that a person will find it difficult to regulate their emotions or have healthy and consistent relationships. However, those skills can be learned with time and the appropriate support.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

A proven therapeutic approach to helping a person with a mood disorder or with suicidal ideation is using DBT.

Emotional Regulation

With a mood disorder such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), a person may struggle to regulate their emotions. This can cause constant mood swings, reactive behavior, and stress between the person and their loved ones. DBT is employed to help someone with BPD understand their emotions. Understanding emotions leads to maintaining control over how they are displayed or expressed.

By developing emotional regulation skills, a person can learn to interact with people more appropriately. However, the best part is being able to be in any situation and still manage emotions when you feel upset or uncomfortable.

Distress Tolerance

Continuing with the example of BPD, a person with this disorder will experience a lot of distress. This can come in the form of pain and sadness, or anxiety. Mood disorders, including BPD, can cause irrational and constant worries and thoughts. A person with BPD may struggle in everyday situations because of their internal worries, thoughts, memories, or outlook on life. When someone with a mood disorder is in a distressing situation, they may take impulsive actions to lessen the distress or get out of the situation.

In treatment or therapy, DBT teaches skills to tolerate those feelings of stress rather than reacting. This lessens impulsivity. However, distress tolerance also teaches a person radical acceptance. This helps them accept life as they experience it, with its ups and downs.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Most people today find it difficult to interact with others, even if they know them. The US has a culture of independence, which can often alienate people from each other. However, with a mood disorder, those feelings of difficulty increase tenfold. Someone with a mood disorder will struggle to maintain relationships because of the distress that can come with interactions, but also because of their thoughts and mood.

Through DBT, interpersonal effectiveness skills are taught. This helps a person learn how to communicate effectively, make themselves heard and understood, and tolerate the differences or things they do not understand about the other person.


The practice of mindfulness is to be present in the moment. This may sound basic, but someone with a mood disorder, or any psychological disorder, may struggle to sit with themselves and their feelings. It is harder than it sounds to sit with your emotions. Especially because mindfulness also teaches nonjudgement.

By mastering mindfulness, a person can sit, feel, and describe their emotions without self-judgment. When a person can eliminate self-judgment, they are freer to have fun, interact with others, or just be without developing self-hate.

Becoming Self-Empowered With Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Through DBT, a person learns how to live a more enjoyable life. Psychological disorders can feel like a self-attack sometimes. They can be painful and difficult to manage. However, with the right treatment, that does not have to be the case. With the right support and therapy, anyone can become self-empowered.

By learning distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, and emotion regulation, a person gets to learn confidence in their thoughts, their emotions, their reactions, and their existence. That is empowering on its own, but interpersonal effectiveness literally teaches a person skills ranging from acting assertively to maintaining self-respect. Self-respect can only grow into feeling empowered in oneself.

Programs That Use Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Anyone can benefit from what DBT teaches, regardless of the disorder. It is up to a person’s therapist, treatment team, and themselves to decide whether DBT is a good fit. Through the different programs, a person can engage in DBT.

Residential Treatment

This level of care is for someone who needs more constant support and accountability. In residential care, a person lives on-site in their own bedroom but in a shared living and treatment space. At Alter Behavioral Health’s residential program, a person can find fully furnished and decorated space, so they can move in and immediately focus on healing and learning to thrive with their disorder.

Outpatient Treatment

After completing residential, a person can step down to one of several outpatient programs. However, someone does not need to go through residential care to be able to participate in outpatient. Sometimes a person cannot take time off work, school, or from family to attend treatment. With different outpatient programs, a person attends treatment programming for six to 30 hours a week, so they can still attend to their other responsibilities the rest of their time. 

Being diagnosed with a psychological disorder often causes feelings of shame and fear. This is due to the stigma and lack of understanding society has for mental health disorders. However, any disorder can provide new strength and wisdom that others do not have. There can be pride in living and managing a disorder. At Alter Behavioral Health, different treatment modalities are used, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to help you learn to thrive with your disorder. Through therapy and medication management, you gain control over your life and learn to let control go. You become the expert in your life. Call us today at (866) 691-4386 to hear how you can gain stability through therapy.