Here’s what you need to know about dialectical behavior therapy, the kind Selena Gomez depends on
Selena Gomez has been incredibly open and brave about her struggles with anxiety and depression. Late last year, she checked herself into rehab due to ongoing anxiety attacks and feelings of mental unrest. Now, she is getting even more real about her recovery by talking about the specific methods her therapist has been using. In a recent interview, Selena says that she has Dialectical Behavior Therapy (or DBT) five times a week with her therapist. “DBT has completely changed my life,” Selena tells Vogue.
But, wait, what exactly is DBT?
DBT was originally created to help suicidal patients who weren’t responding to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT), which helps people suffering from anxiety and depression to recognize and later to alter negative or inaccurate thought patterns.
According to the New York Times, Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, the creator of the treatment, recognized that “before her patients could or would change, she saw, they needed to accept themselves and to be accepted, exactly as they were in the present. This dialectic tension between acceptance and change is the root concept of dialectical behavior therapy.”
So, if Selena isn’t suicidal, why is she in this therapy? Well, DBT is now also used to treat people who are anxious or depressed. The treatment helps those with overwhelming thoughts and feelings to manage their distress and engage in healthy behaviors without judging themselves.
"The 'understanding and acknowledging' step of DBT is one of the main facets that separates it from regular CBT: this approach supports the mindful and non-judgmental observation and description of emotional experiences."
“The addition of this aspect makes DBT effective across a range of mental health problems, including anxiety disorders, because the skills you learn help you differentiate emotions from facts, allowing you to work with and manage emotions effectively.”
For a patient, DBT is often a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, a skills training group (to learn and encourage healthier behaviors), and phone coaching (so patients can get help in the moment), according to BehavioralTech.org.
“I wish more people would talk about therapy,” Selena says in Vogue. “We girls, we’re taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back, the girl who’s down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart.” Selena was so deeply affected by her time in rehab that she is now producing a series for Netflix about teen suicide.
We love that Selena has found a treatment that is right for her, and we hope that her bravery in talking about her struggles with mental illness will further destigmatize going to therapy as well as anxiety and depression in general. We hope this treatment can help many others, too.