How to Stop Myself from Quitting Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

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Why you shouldn't quit DBT before you're doneDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of therapy specifically developed for individuals who have borderline personality disorder (BPD), particularly those who are chronically suicidal. It’s used for other mental health challenges as well, such as eating disorders, substance abuse, depression, bipolar disorder, and sometimes PTSD.

Because DBT aims to treat complex mental health challenges, it’s a form of therapy that can be very intense and exhausting. It’s not uncommon to have the urge to quit DBT, but before you come to that decision impulsively, it’s important to consider why DBT has been recommended as a method of treatment in your case and why you should continue your treatment.

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Why You May Want to Quit DBT

There are several reasons that people consider quitting DBT. Here are some of the most common reasons given for wanting to stop this therapy:

  • You feel like it’s not helping.
  • It takes a large commitment of time and energy.
  • You don’t believe therapist is a good fit.
  • You are overwhelmed by the intense emotions that come up in therapy.
  • You don’t believe it’s possible to get better.
  • You have financial concerns.

Make a list of the concerns that apply to you and talk to your therapist about them. Negative feelings need to be sorted out, not ignored.

Reasons Not to Quit DBT

Keep in mind that the urge to quit may be your mental health disorder talking. Change and growth are always scary and painful, and resistance to any kind of change is common. If you struggle with depression, feelings of hopelessness are part of your condition, and the fact that you don’t feel better instantly doesn’t mean therapy isn’t working.

One approach to sorting out feelings about wanting to discontinue DBT is to make a list of the pros and cons of quitting. Even though you might be focusing on how much you don’t want to keep participating in this therapy, there are some good reasons to continue, as well as possible consequences to choosing not to stick with therapy. Writing out pros and cons will help you think through this decision.

This can also help to clarify whether it’s the form of therapy you are having a problem with or whether you might need a different therapist. Don’t conclude that DBT isn’t right for you based on a personality clash with your therapist.

Consider the Benefits of Staying in Treatment

If you are struggling with a complex mental health condition, you may have trouble controlling your thoughts and actions. Impulsivity is part of BPD and some other mental health disorders, so the urge to quit may be a sign that your disorder is not under control.

Instead of focusing on how uncomfortable you are with treatment and how much you don’t want to participate, turn your focus to the benefits of staying in treatment. DBT aims to teach you the skills that you need to cope with difficult symptoms. When you stick with treatment, you will learn important skills including:

  • Mindfulness
  • Distress tolerance
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Emotional regulation

The urge to quit is often connected to looking too far into the future, dreading the weeks and months ahead. Bring your focus back to the present. What lessons or skills did you learn today or this week? What positive changes have you been able to make? Focus on what is working in your DBT therapy, and hang in there for one more day or session at a time.

If you still feel like you want to quit therapy, talk through your feelings with your therapist. Don’t rush into quitting DBT. If you do decide quitting is the right decision for you, before doing so, make sure you have an alternative treatment plan in place.

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