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This approach works towards helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states and helping to assess which coping skills to apply in the sequence of events, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to help avoid undesired reactions.

DBT assumes that people are doing the best they can but are either lacking the skills or influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interfere with their ability to function appropriately.

Although research on its effectiveness in treating other conditions has been extremely limited, DBT is now used in a variety of psychological treatments including treatment for traumatic brain injuries (TBI), eating disorders, and mood disorders.

DBT combines standard cognitive behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice.

DBT is the first therapy that has been experimentally demonstrated to be generally effective in treating BPD.

Linehan observed "burn-out" in therapists after coping with "non-motivated" patients who repudiated cooperation in successful treatment.

Her first core insight was to recognize that the chronically suicidal patients she studied had been raised in profoundly invalidating environments, and, therefore, required a climate of loving-kindness and somewhat unconditional acceptance (not Rogers’ positive humanist approach, but Hanh's metaphysically neutral one), in which to develop a successful therapeutic alliance.

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