The Psychoeducational focus of CBT, DBT and Positive Psychology

Although many other fields of psychology focus on life skills psychoeducation, the most popular of them with the most widespread influence is CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and Positive Psychology.The provide a a great foundation of psycho-educational group activities and handouts that offer clients to build their life skills.

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavior Therapy, known as CBT, is an active psychotherapeutic approach that considers faulty thinking to be the root of many psychological problems. It is widely adopted and the fastest growing therapeutic orientation in the world today. The approach has been clinically tested in thousands of ways and its effectiveness for dealing with a wide range of psychological issues has been substantiated. Results for dealing with symptoms such as anxiety and depression have been shown to be dramatic, especially in short term therapy. CBT’s practical skill-based focus is extremely powerful in treating commonly encountered psychological issues such as low selfesteem, depression and anxiety. The success is largely due to CBT’s strong psychoeducational component, requiring an active role by the therapist to teach clients how to identify and change maladaptive thought patterns. This life skills orientation is best supplemented in between sessions with psychotherapy handouts, psychotherapy worksheets and CBT-inspired books to support clients in their attempts to change unhealthy thinking habits.

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a life skills therapeutic approach combining Eastern and Western psychological frameworks. In this comprehensive model of treating even the most treatment resistant clients, the Eastern focus of Mindfulness and Acceptance is combined with the Western change-based approach of Cognitive Behavioral Psychology. Thus, you might say B.F. Skinner and Buddha cross paths in this East meets West model of treatment. A Cognitive Behavioral focus is softened with the seemingly opposed concepts of Mindfulness and Acceptance.

DBT is a skills-based approach, offering practical life skills tools for both individual and group therapy. Skills practice through various techniques which are outlined in this chapter provides the cornerstone of DBT’s success. DBT focuses on skill building in 4 basic areas: The two change-based areas are Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Skill Building, and the two acceptance-based areas are Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance.

DBT is a relatively new model, developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the early 1990s. Although relatively new in the field, many of the facets of DBT have been widely adopted in various mental health settings where practical life skill building is a priority. As a psychologist at the University of Washington, she initially studied and worked with highly suicidal clients. Due to this population’s difficulty in coping with life’s stresses and generally poor impulse control under stress, she developed very simple skills for them to regularly practice to gain more self-control over impulsive behavior. These suicidal clients were generally diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder, which then became the focus of Lineman’s study and treatment.

Recognizing the difficulty of Borderlines to cope with their intense and conflicting emotions, combined with poor impulse control and possible suicidal intent, she developed a series of life skills coping strategies through education, worksheets and handouts. Her well-known teaching guide for clinicians leading DBT groups, Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder, is her blueprint for leading highly structured DBT psychosocial skill building groups. Her web site, offers many psychotherapy handouts, worksheets and resources.

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology, with its focus on happiness and well-being, is a relatively new field, although the roots go way back centuries ago. Socrates and Plato focused on happiness and self-knowledge as essential life pursuits. The religion of Judaism was founded on the idea that happiness is gained through a moral and religious life. The Declaration of Independence was founded on the premise that all people had “unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The roots of the actual field called Positive Psychology were much more recent, dating back to the movement of Humanistic Psychology in the 20th century, spearheaded by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Humanistic Psychology veered off from the typical study of mental illness, shifting the focus from Psychopathology to Self Actualization and Personal Growth. In the last 20 years, Martin Seligman provided the foundation of the mental health movement called Positive Psychology, with his focus on optimism, happiness, well-being and “flourishing.” His book titles reveal this focus: Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life; Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being; and Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. In the graduate program he founded at the University of Pennsylvania, he offers the first advanced program in Positive Psychology called the Master of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP).

The field of Positive Psychology studies how and why people are happy and focuses on helping people develop skills and resources to how people can increase overall wellness and life satisfaction. Counseling handouts and accompanying psychotherapy worksheets help clients and self-help fans improve wellness. Sample topics of Positive Psychology are Happiness, Positivity, Gratefulness, Success, Emotional Prosperity, Flourishing, Personal Development, Optimism, Mindfulness and Resilience.