March 26, 2024

DBT and Neurodivergence

Author: Catherine Herling

While Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) was originally created to treat Suicidality, the efficacy of DBT in other populations has consistently been shown to be beneficial for many, regardless of their initial problems. This also includes individuals who have a neurodivergent diagnosis.

For more adherent practitioners of DBT, it can feel as though neurodivergent patients need to change parts of themselves that are connected to their neurodivergence, such as how to walk the middle path in relationships and using calming mindfulness to regulate emotions. However, if one implements a neurodivergent-affirming lens, DBT can provide helpful change skills while also allowing neurodivergent individuals to accept and embrace their differences.

It can be argued that DBT’s fundamental dialect would be synthesizing acceptance and change, which provides opportunities for neurodivergent individuals to learn how to use their Wise Mind to distinguish between parts of their lives that need to be accepted versus parts that they can change.

For example, while you can’t completely cure yourself from sensory sensitivity and have to accept that there will be situations where you are at a higher risk of experiencing sensory overload, you CAN use Coping Ahead to increase the sense of control over methods of soothing via stimming or leaving an overwhelming situation.

If you have a diagnosis of ASD, ADHD, or another learning disability, consider looking for a DBT-informed therapist to assist in accepting your neurodivergence and learning how to feel that you are in control instead of your diagnosis.

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