Lady Gaga puts mental wellness and Dialectical Behavior Therapy in the spotlight

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I’m a Cleveland-based clinician trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This means part of the philosophy I embrace is the need to balance opposite truths.

DBT therapists teach clients how to balance the pain of life’s experiences with the joy of living fully. From that spot, wise decisions can be made, which leads to changes in behavior.

DBT therapy is designed for a complex overlay of symptoms and is the No. 1 evidence-based treatment for addressing the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. Those dedicated to the complexity of this treatment make a commitment to lifelong learning. Each year, many of us attend an annual conference for the improvement and advancement of DBT. By sharing research data, demonstrating advanced clinical techniques, and building comradery with each other, we stay awake to best practices for our clients and ourselves.

A highlight of our most recent conference was hearing that the effectiveness of DBT treatment had reached super-star proportions. In an interview in Elle magazine, Lady Gaga shared with Oprah that she had found empowerment in DBT, and that it gave her a guide to understanding strong emotions.

I almost hit the floor in shock. I’m a Little Monster of the highest order and saw TWO of her concerts in Las Vegas in October. She should have told ME, not Oprah! I didn’t see Oprah in the crowd! Hmph!

Once I picked myself back up, I took in the real impact of what Lady Gaga had done. In just a few words, she gave DBT an international spotlight – letting people know there is a way out of the hell of intense emotions. More important, sharing her experience modeled that seeking care for mental health conditions should be as routine as treating the common cold. Her words reached more people than one therapist ever could, and I’m grateful for her taking that risk.

Still, I paired this with another point shared during the conference. Did you know that for every therapist certified in evidence-based treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder, there are 5,933 people in the United States seeking such treatment? This boggled my mind and left my heart heavy.  Naturally, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see Lady Gaga succeed with her DBT treatment. What about those other 5,932 people who can’t find it or can’t access it? What do we do for them?

I share this with the hope that someone reading these words reaches out for help with their struggles, no matter how dark the future looks and no matter who you are in the world.

Here are two opposite truths to balance: Overcoming the pain of life can feel hopeless. And there are treatments that effectively address that pain; there is hope.



About the Author:

Amy Kalasunas, LPCC-S, NCC, is Chief Operating Officer and Director of DBT Services at CEBTOhio. A DBT Linehan Board-Certified Clinician, she is an experienced teacher and sought-after speaker on implementation of effective evidence-based treatment.