#ParagonDBT : Dialectics and Independence

DBT - Independence

Paragon is a residential program driven by Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). There are a lot of good places to get information about DBT (Behavior Tech, is a big one) In this blog, we’ll be regularly giving general information about DBT.

The first word in the acronym DBT is “dialectical.” According to Merriam-Webster, a “dialectic” is a term from philosophy that is defined as a “process of change in which a concept… is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite.” In other words, dialectics are about the integration of opposites. Personhood is full of opposing tensions. At all times, cells are both living and dying. At all times, people are both staying the same and changing. Even stillness is full of movement; and movement is full of stability.

As we celebrate Independence Day, the dialectic of independence and interdependence is profoundly important. All people need to be both independent and interdependent. Navigating this difference is often a challenge in adolescence: teenagers want both to be left alone and to have help and support from people who love them. Parenting a teenager is about dancing with your child on that line, and helping them move into adulthood with a healthy balance between needing others and being self-sufficient.

Parents, too, need to be both independent and relationally engaged. One of the biggest things that parents work on while their child is getting care at Paragon is often about social support. How do parents solicit and coach others to be good support people for them? How do parents acknowledge and hold their own pain, grief, or anger about their child’s symptoms, while at the same time, not completely rely on their child changing their symptoms to change their own feelings about those symptoms?

As the United States celebrates Independence Day, I’d encourage you to consider the dialectic of independence and interdependence in your own life. In what areas of your life do you want to be more independent? In what areas of your life do you need to ask for help? Both are important, and so are you.

-Dr. B