What do you want to stop doing?
DBT Chain Analysis
In DBT all behaviors (actions, thoughts, emotions) are caused. To figure out the roots of the cause, DBT uses a tool called a Behavior Chain Analysis.
A Behavior Chain Analysis describes a “chain of behavior” or links in a sequence of events. DBT uses this chain to help people analyze how they got from point A to point B (the Target behavior). DBT helps you target behaviors that have become very risky for your health and safety, that are interfering with the quality of your life, and that you lack the skills necessary to stop doing the actions you would like to eliminate.
Once you start to understand what led you to the targeted behavior you can make the needed changes to stop or manage these targeted actions.
Here is an example:
What is the problem behavior you have done that you would like to stop (the Targeted behavior): “I ate when I was not hungry, and I ate much more food than I wanted to. At the time I did not care. I seemed like I was on automatic pilot.”
What factors in your life have made you more vulnerable to doing the problem behavior: “I haven’t been sleeping well, my partner and I are like roommates, I feel anxious and depressed most of the time, I have trouble saying no so I do a lot for other people and get very little in return, I resent how my partner is nice to other people and not nice to me.”
What is the precipitating event that led you, or triggered you, to engage in the problem behavior: “After dinner my partner fell asleep in the recliner.”
What are the thoughts, feelings, and reactions you have had about your partner falling asleep in the recliner:
- Why does he/she always do this?
- Are they as unhappy and lonely as I am? They seem content just to do this forever.
- I feel anxious, lonely, and hurt.
- What is wrong with me? Why don’t we have a relationship anymore?
- Are they having an affair?
- They must be getting sex/love from someone else.
- If I talk about this, they always blow up or avoid me.
- They even promise to do things to make this better and rarely follow through on these promises.
- I feel more anxious, upset and not loved.
- I am not a priority. Everything and everyone else are.
- You acknowledge you have lost interest in sex too.
- You feel unattractive and/or inadequate.
- You go into another room, get your iPad, and go to Facebook.
- You pour yourself a glass of wine, sit down, and read the posts.
- You respond to some.
- You start to seemingly feel better, but you are not sure. It is not the same as talking to your partner.
- You get up, go to the kitchen, and get a snack.
- You go back to Facebook.
- You do not know how you feel. You think you might feel better.
- You go get something else to eat.
At this point you are engaging in the targeted behavior.
What are the consequences to me and to my environment when I do this:
“I feel better for a short while then I regret this. I gain weight. My clothes do not fit, I feel more inadequate and unattractive, I feel I will be stuck in this cycle forever. We have less snacks in the kitchen, I must buy more food, snacks are not available for my kids, and I did not solve my problem. I just made my problem worse and I feel terrible.”
We start solving the situation by examining your vulnerabilities. If you are less vulnerable, then you are less likely to engage in the targeted behavior. So, we evaluate which vulnerabilities can be managed to decrease the targeted actions.
Then we assess the thoughts, feelings, and reactions after the precipitating event. We discuss and make plans to help you actively solve your situation or accept what has been going on around you and cope more effectively.
If you can interrupt one link, you can then interrupt the whole chain.
Lastly, we look at the ways you can realistically repair any damage or consequences that have been done because of the chain and the targeted behaviors.
The Behavior Chain Analysis is an asset in DBT. People can understand what is happening in their life and learn how to apply a skill to change their situation.