Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) teaches patients to control self-destructive thoughts, increase self-awareness and deal with conflict and stress through a combination of behavior and cognitive therapies. DBT was first used in the 1970s to treat patients with borderline personality disorders and today is used to treat a wide array of emotional and behavioral disorders. Dr. Teresa Susmaras has used DBT throughout the course of her career as a clinical neuropsychologist.
The practice of DBT involves going through four stages of treatment modules—mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. During DBT, treatment is organized into these phases, with a strict order as to how problems are addressed.
Through DBT, patients focus on changing and controlling harmful behaviors. Benefits of DBT include learning ways to decrease high risk and self-destructive behavior, decreased symptoms related to anxiety and depression and enhanced self-respect. These benefits are achieved through focusing on facts over emotions, enabling patients to react in positive and productive manners without spiraling into destructive behaviors and thoughts.
Doctors have found success in treating a wide range of emotional disorders with DBT including bipolar disorder, depression disorders, chemical dependency and addiction, anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Eating disorders such as bulimia, binge eating, anorexia and emotional eating are increasingly being treated with DBT as well due to the emphasis this type of therapy puts on emotional regulation and incorporating healthy coping strategies.
Dr. Teresa Susmaras currently practices clinical neuropsychology in Wisconsin. She has also practiced at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.