When most people hear the words “acceptance” and “change,” they automatically associate them with opposite ends of the spectrum. Change is hardly ever associated with acceptance, but rather with resistance and fighting back. For example, when we are struggling with unhealthy behaviors and habits, accepting our current selves or our present circumstances is never in our wildest fantasies — and there are good reasons for that. Many believe that if they accept themselves, they will never feel motivated to change.
However, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) teaches us to accept and change simultaneously. Acceptance and change are two critical dialectic components that form the core of DBT. The DBT method teaches radical acceptance and instills in people the belief that change is both attainable and essential. This way of thinking has become one of the most successful strategies for treating anxious people tormented by thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
In today’s blog, we will take a closer look at Dialectical Behavior Therapy — what this evidence-based psychotherapy is and how it uses acceptance and change in order to help people who are often sad, lonely, and depressed.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that teaches people who have impulsive or self-destructive behaviors how to “live in the moment” and manage their negative thoughts. DBT mental health counseling sessions teach clients effective coping mechanisms to manage difficult emotions and tolerate distress.
People participating in DBT counseling may even uncover novel ways to improve their relationships with others. Maintaining healthy and stable relations with friends, family, and acquaintances may be a challenge for some. However, they can finally learn to experience the joy and happiness of having someone they can trust and rely on with the help of regular therapy sessions led by expert counselors in Wake County.
DBT’s origins can be traced back to the 1980s when American psychologist and author Dr. Marsha Linehan developed this new therapy treatment in the hopes of helping people who have borderline personality disorder (“BPD” or emotional dysregulation disorder). She observed that people with BPD are often plagued by their irrepressible negative emotions. These emotions tend to negatively affect their positive interactions with friends, romantic partners, and peers.
Linehan’s DBT was strongly influenced by the philosophical idea of balancing the opposites — as is noticeable in the term “Dialectical” Behavior Therapy. In a DBT session, expert therapists help individuals seek ways to balance the two opposite perspectives to steer clear of the “black and white” way of thinking. In other words, DBT helps people to take a both-and rather than either-or outlook. In this way, the two dialectically conflicting ideas of acceptance and change can be seen as coexisting rather than being at opposite extremes of the spectrum.
Acceptance and change are at the heart of DBT. The idea is that when we accept ourselves as we are in the present moment — rather than fighting or blaming ourselves — we become more open to change. Many of us struggle to grasp this paradoxical concept because we fail to accept ourselves when we have habits and behaviors that are typically not seen favorably.
When we are not in the “perfect” state we wish to be, we struggle with the idea that we must fight against our habits in order to bring about a positive change in our lives. However, DBT practitioners believe the more we resist accepting ourselves as we are right now, the more difficult it is to change ourselves for the better.
So, the trick is to strive to change the current bad habits that cause pain and suffering while also accepting the present self — with all of its flaws and weaknesses — in a non-judgmental way. It is worthwhile to note that you may not like or be happy with your current state, but that does not mean you must refuse to accept it. Doing so makes the suffering worse.
When we say “acceptance,” we simply mean taking something in its natural form or accepting yourself as you are. Please also keep in mind that acceptance does not indicate approval, and the objective remains to change the hurtful or destructive behavior — accepting only ensures lasting change.
For example, if you are plagued by suicidal ideation, you have to recognize that your primary objective is to end your pain and suffering — it is not to end your life. You see ending your life as a way to end your misery, which is clearly not the case. However, in order to change your self-harming behavior, the first thing you have to do is accept that it is just a thought. It does not mean that you embrace suicide as a viable option. Instead, you accept your current state and thoughts while trying to change them with a healthier solution, such as tolerating the distress and regulating your emotions.
DBT, like other types of cognitive behavioral therapy, offers you the coping strategies to deal with unhelpful behaviors. Some common DBT strategies include:
Are you ready to accept yourself as you are — instead of fighting back — to change your current self? If you are, help is just a call away! At RDU Counseling for Change, we offer mental health counseling in Wake County for individuals ready to see a positive change in themselves. Our RDU counselors are there to provide you with strategies and help you break free! Call us today at 919-713-0260 or e-mail at to book your online therapy in Raleigh, NC area.
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