Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (RO DBT) for Perfectionism

Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (RO DBT) for Perfectionism

By Vanessa Gonzalez

You’ve probably heard of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that focuses on changing illogical thoughts, which change your behavior. DBT, on the other hand, is a specialized form of CBT that teaches individuals practical skills to manage ineffective thoughts and intense emotions, which change their behavior. CBT and DBT are wildly known treatment modalities used for various mental illnesses. Both, specifically CBT, have been used to treat perfectionists.

However, a newer modality shows promise in treating maladaptive perfectionism – Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (RO DBT).

Maladaptive Perfectionism

When we think about perfectionists, a lot of things may come to mind. Perfectionism can motivate you to be the best you can be or do your best. On the other hand, focusing so much on working hard to drive to be or do the best, they find themselves paralyzed or not completing tasks at all. This is when it becomes maladaptive perfectionism.

Perfectionists strive to be flawless in all areas of their life. They have overly high standards, high criticism toward themselves, and are exceedingly concerned with how others view them. Maladaptive Perfectionisms are hardly ever satisfied with themselves or their performance and consider mistakes to be failures and reflections of themselves. When mistakes are made, or a goal isn’t achieved, they believe it’s an inherent part of who they are, not a normal part of learning.

Interestingly, procrastination is a symptom of perfectionism. Perfectionists put things off for as long as they can to protect themselves. If the task is never done, it’s never “messed up”; thus, they never fail. Maladaptive perfectionism’s self-worth lies in their accomplishments and productivity, ending with unrealistic goals and expectations set on oneself. When the plans are not achieved, they are “lazy, stupid, or unworthy.”

Overall, maladaptive perfectionism is described as overcontrolling because perfectionism struggles with rigidity and thus may socially withdraw and have a negative impact on their overall quality of life.

What is RO DBT?

There has been a lot of research supporting the effectiveness of Radically Open Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (RO DBT) in treating maladaptive criticism. Standard DBT was developed to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD). RO DBT treats overcontrol and rigidity. RO DBT teaches the individual to increase flexibility and lower rigidity, and lower behaviors associated with overcontrol. Alongside individual therapy sessions with a trained RO DBT therapist, the individual can attend weekly skills groups to apply the skills to specific situations in their own life. RO DBT has three main components: openness, flexibility, and social connectedness

Openness: Take risks and be open to constructive criticism

These skills help the individual to accept feedback that would normally upset them.

Flexibility: Freedom from perfectionism and rigidity

Allows the individual to adapt and respond to the unknown and utilize mindfulness to help stay in a flexibility mindset.

Social Connectedness: Connect with others

RODBT enhances ability to connect with others and helps cope with negative emotions such as shame to improve social connectedness with others.

We are therapists who provide Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, and West Palm Beach.

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