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DBT and Autism

Often when emotional regulation comes up CBT is a therapy people go to. While that does make sense as it is an effective therapy for many and therefor easy to find it has never worked for me. I could not analyze emotions that I barely knew I had or talk about issues I could not break down or cope with. So in 2018 I started DBT. It changed my life. Here is why:

1. Skills. CBT also has skills "or tools" but DBT makes it a big part of treatment. If you go into full dbt you will have talk therapy and group therapy. No worries about discussing your feelings with strangers group is just learning skills. All of the skills have steps that are clear and mostly easy to follow under four modules (mindfulness, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance) meaning there is a right way to do the skills and they will teach you. However the right way can be flexible just as long as you are "effective" (doing just as is needed) so my therapist does not shame me for stimming, not wanting to socialize a lot, having obsessions as long as it's working for me.

1a. mindfulness. I live in the moment all the time so I did not think I needed mindfulness. But it turns out being mindful can help me pick up on cues both in myself (thirst, hunger) and outside (not gonna say it helped with social cues but I notice people around me more)
1b. emotional regulation. How was a going to regulate if I did not even know what was going on? Well every emotion (10 of them) has a sheet in the workbook with typical prompting event, physical clues, thoughts you may have, actions you may have the urge to take. This module also helps with checking the facts on a situation (even if you tend to be logic based you will have trouble sometimes...this is not one I have to use often but still useful) and how to work backwards in an event after to problem solve (yes you get to analyze a lot of your own patterns which happens to be something I like) among other things
1c. interpersonal effectiveness. This is so helpful. I act odd no matter what so I might as well have a good script for asking for things and they have things to help with that! This also helped me be more aware of what I wanted out of things and being more aware of others.
1d. Distress tolerance. When I feel emotions they can be strong. My life is full of overload and misunderstandings so I will feel lots of distress but now I know what to do (this looks more like typical coping stuff mostly)

2. Dialectics
I have spent two years trying to see the other side of things. That is not the most natural thing for me and I still mess up in that regard a lot but dialectics seek to get you out of black and white thinking. I have found this helpful as well

Clear steps to follow
Helps with describing emotions
Helps you get what you need by teaching you how to ask
Rules for therapy (everything has rules!)

The reason for this structure is that DBT was started to help people with BPD but rules to reduce dangerous behaviors also help me understand what is going on and what to do so it works!

I know this is a vague overview however I hope you still find this helpful.


My limited understanding is that DBT is either an offshoot or a subset of CBT. Some people may refer as Dialectical CBT. They both approach problems thru thinking and learning rather than digging deep into resolving feelings, the psychoanalytical approach.

Black and white thinking is really a curse we fall into. If you look at things thru different perspectives you can see that most of the time nobody is "to blame" for conflicts and misunderstandings. Once you stop placing blame and assigning evil, it is like a huge burden has been lifted.

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