Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a highly effective form of psychotherapy. It helps to treat a range of mental disorders from depression to substance abuse. DBT is a modified form of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that helps teach people a number of skills to better their lives.
These skills are taught through four modules, which make up the basis for DBT. The four modules are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. Each module builds off the other, teaching patients a number of necessary skills that help them identify and cope with triggers.
Interpersonal effectiveness is the fourth module, which teaches people how to be assertive and deal with interpersonal problem-solving. While many people with disorders such as borderline personality disorder may have general good interpersonal skills, they often lack the ability to apply it to their own specific situations. This is why interpersonal effectiveness is a key step to DBT.
Even people with no mental disorders can struggle with communicating their needs, setting boundaries, and coping with conflict. These issues become especially challenging for people with mental health issues. Interpersonal effectiveness focuses on helping someone reach their goals, and navigating obstacles without damaging one’s self-respect or relationships.
This module combines the skills taught in the other three modules. A patient has to be mindful of their needs and other’s when communicating. They must identify and control their emotions when facing obstacles or expressing their needs. And they have to control any distress that arises from relationship conflicts. The main goal of interpersonal effectiveness in DBT is to help a person get what they need without damaging themselves or others.
There are a few tools DBT teaches patients during this module. DEAR MAN helps convey one’s needs to another person. GIVE is a skillset that aims to help people better maintain relationships, whether it’s with family, friends, romantic partners or co-workers. FAST is about maintaining one’s self-respect and is in combination with the other skills. Patients also learn how to problem-solve, which is typically practiced during group DBT sessions.
Like with the other modules, a typical DBT course will spend around 6 weeks on interpersonal effectiveness. This is usually the last module of the treatment as it really puts to use the skills people learn in this type of therapy in other modules.