Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

The Role of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) in Enhancing the Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness Amongst Adolescents

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

The Role of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) in Enhancing the Distress Tolerance and Interpersonal Effectiveness Amongst Adolescents

Article excerpt

Distress either can be physical like a broken leg or it can be emotional like sadness, depression or anger. At some phase or point of life we all have to face, tolerate and cope with the distress in our lives. Distress tolerance primarily refers to individual's ability to withstand and experience negative psychological states (Simons & Gaher, 2005). Simon and Gaher, (2005) explained distress tolerance as a metaemotional construct with respect to tolerability and aversiveness; appraisal and acceptability; tendency to absorb attention and disrupt functioning; and regulation of emotions. The causes of distress tolerance could be physical and cognitive but its manifestation is emotional and characterized by tendency to relieve this state. Persons low on the construct of distress tolerance are unable to manage their confusions. They develop negative schemas regarding their confusions, underestimate their coping abilities and find themselves unable to cope with the situations. Most of them try to avoid negative emotions and to find immediate relief for their confusion they look for different modes of relief. As they lack insight of their capabilities to deal with their emotions, all their attention gets focused on the existence of the turbulent emotions; and being overwhelmed by negative emotions their performance gets significantly impaired (Simons & Gaher, 2005).

This construct plays a major role in the treatment of suicidal behaviours (Linehan et al., 1991, Linehan et al., 1993, Koons et al., 2001, Verheul et al., 2003) substance abuse (Linehan et al., 2002), bulimia (Safer et al., 2001) and eating disorder (Teich et al., 2001). Low distress tolerance is led to impulsive behaviours and, in turn, these behaviours are led to people's relieving. In other words, emotional regulation styles are influenced by distress tolerance skills. Distress tolerance causes individual's difference in the assessment of confusion and this, in turn, causes a person to feel a certain amount of stress stronger than others and, also, has a more negative view about confusion.

The interpersonal relationships and effectiveness between adolescents, their family and friends are considered to be a crucial factor that influences their well-being. Other Contextual stressors such as family instability (divorce, violence and poor parental support) and socio-economic challenges impair healthy adolescent development, thereby increasing the risk of self-destructive behaviour (Hall & Torres, 2002).

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) focuses on learning to cope and change the distressing events and circumstances. At certain phases in our life we all have to deal with distress and pain, it can either be physical like broken leg after an accident or it could be emotional like sadness or anger. DBT emphasizes learning to bear pain (which is often unavoidable and unpredictable) skillfully. Distress tolerance behavioural skills acquired in DBT help the clients to cope better with unavoidable and unbearable painful events by building up their resiliency and by teaching them the new ways to soften and smooth the effects of upsetting circumstances (Linehan, 1993). Distress tolerance skills training in DBT teaches a numerous self-soothing and impulse control techniques which target to survive the crisis situation without using drugs, suicidal attempt and without exhibiting any dysfunctional behaviour.

Distress tolerance skills are learnt or acquired via the techniques of thought distraction, self-soothing, improving the present moment, and thinking about pros and cons at the moment.

Maintaining relationships is really the toughest task which requires effective interpersonal skills. Interpersonal effectiveness skills are a composite of social-skills (McKay, Davis, & Fanning, 1983), assertiveness training (Albetti & Emmons, 1990; Bower & Bower, 1991), and listening skills (Baker, 1990; Rogers, 1951) which have been combined by Linehan (1993a) for dialectical behaviour therapy. …

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