Radical Acceptance as a Pathway to Change


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) was designed in the 1990s for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder, a mental illness characterized by mood swings, unstable self-image, and impulsive behavior. Central to DBT is the belief that “reality is interrelated and connected, made of opposing forces, and always changing.” DBT pivots on the concept of “radical acceptance”, wherein a client is encouraged to accept herself as she is in the present moment without shame, and to accept responsibility for her actions without either descending into catatonic dejection or lashing out at others in frantic attempts to preserve an ego-ideal. “Therapeutic change can occur only in the context of acceptance of what is, and the act of acceptance itself is change.” Thus, the client develops a sense of stable, authentic autonomy and agency, by strategies that require the maintenance of differing – even contradictory – points of view in dynamic and creative tension. As the client becomes better able to accept, survive, and tolerate different perspectives, she finds freedom from internal pressures and conflicts, and can thus achieve stability and growth in interpersonal relationships. How does this dialectical process intersect with philosophical and religious inquiry, and the pursuit of peace?

Author Information
Nancy Billias, University of Saint Joseph, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ECERP2018
Stream: Interdisciplinary - Conflict Resolution and Mediation Studies

This paper is part of the ECERP2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by amp21