I can’t lie to you –I have always wanted to go to Hogwarts and be a wizard. I was heartbroken to realize I was a Muggle. That is, until I discovered my magic through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

When I first started learning and practicing DBT, I learned all about dialectics. You could say that dialectical thinking is our Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1. One of the very first “spells” I learned was to use the word “and” instead of “but.” I remember thinking, “Well, wait. This is just semantics, right?” 

Does one word have that much impact?

The answer, almost overwhelming, is yes.

In the words of Albus Dumbledore, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”

The fact of the matter is that semantics is crucial because it is how we assign meaning to our words. Words matter–whether they are words we hear, think, or read. Words shape our entire existence. Words are the stories we tell ourselves, expressions of love and pain, and how we communicate almost everything to ourselves and others.

The magic of DBT teaches us to honor more than one truth at a time. It harnesses the ‘magic’ of words and helps us learn to validate ourselves and our experiences in the many ways they present themselves. 

We can have a “bad day” and still be hopeful. We can be angry at someone and still love them with all our hearts. We can be a little girl, heartbroken that she can’t escape to Hogwarts and still be thinking of the future. 

In my practice, I work with clients that sometimes use an “All or Nothing” standpoint or who use a lot of “buts” and judgments. Dumbledore was right – words can inflict some serious injury. The judgments and criticisms we make about ourselves and others can create a lot of pain and misery. Often times, pain or distress is ignored or invalidated by people in our lives or our thoughts.

These kinds of thoughts are the ‘Dark Magic’ of our world today. Some examples would be: 

– I will never be happy again. 
– I’m an idiot.
– I can’t forgive them.
– There is nothing else I can do!

DBT dictates that you remove judgmental language and create a synthesis between opposites. DBT teaches us that the magic to change our thoughts is inside of us. You may need a therapist (your own Albus Dumbledore – if you will) to help you throughout the journey, or you may make changes all on your own.

Some examples of dialectic thinking would be:

  • I am not happy right now, and I don’t know how long this will last.
  • I think I am an idiot and I can’t prove that.
  • I can’t forgive them, and I can accept that something painful happened.
  • I’m doing the best I can, and I know I need to change.

The power of dialectical thinking teaches us that more than one thing can be true at the same time. We can hurt, and we can heal. We can be in darkness and still be searching for light. We can be full of power and be unsure how to harness it, or even find it.

There is no magic spell to ‘obliviate’ our pain away, and there is so much power inside of us to change our stories. The question is: Are you ready to use the magic that’s inside of you? You are, in fact, a wizard too.

Some resources for finding out more about the magic of DBT are:

  • Reading some DBT books recommended by Marsha Lineham, creator of DBT. 
  • Reading about some celebrities’ experiences with DBT.
  • Working with a DBT therapist. At Therapeutic Oasis, many of our therapists utilize a DBT perspective. We also have multiple DBT Skills Groups at both our Boca and Jupiter locations. For more information, contact our Care Support at (561) 278-6033 or check out our website.
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  1. Alyssa, you are a wonderful writer. Keep on writing – you have a gift that needs to keep on “giving” to the ED community and beyond..
    Best regards, Adrienne Ressler

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