>DBT and ASD

>DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) is a widely used therapy program that was developed by Marsha Linehan for use with patients with borderline personality disorder. It is now used with mood disorders, abuse survivors, and substance abuse issues. The mood and anxiety program I’m in as my outpatient treatment program post-hospitalization is solely DBT-focused. At first, the worrier in me wondered if the fact that I knew DBT worked well for me meant that I had BPD (a diagnosis I really fear)… but using my wise mind (a DBT skill!), I know that correlation does not imply causation and that I should not worry about that.

Basically, DBT is awesome. It has four modules (mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness). Today, as skill practice, we played a game called Moods in which you choose a card with a mood on it and a card with a totally random saying or phrase, and you say the phrase in the specified mood. The moods aren’t all easy ones, either… they include bashful, indignant, and hopeful. Try saying “there’s gold in them there hills” indignantly. Go ahead. It’s not easy!

Think about how much these skills can help a person with ASD. Distress tolerance? Emotion regulation? Interpersonal effectiveness? Mindfulness? I mean, come on, this is huge. Why aren’t people using this for people on the spectrum?! The study I’m in uses a cognitive therapy, CET (originally developed for schizophrenia), to treat ASD, and it’s not even as helpful as DBT is for me. These skills are also hugely helpful for someone with an ED, I might add. We focus a lot on disrupting the cycle of emotion dysregulation which leads to engaging in problem behaviors (for me, that’s restricting calories and overexercising).

I’m so excited to finally be in a program that might actually WORK. That would be new. In a good way.