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Dialectical Behavior Therapy DBT: What Is It?

DBT offers a practical and evidence-based approach to managing difficult emotions and behaviours. Understanding what the six main points of dialectical behavior therapy are is just the beginning. Each point offers a set of skills and insights that can profoundly impact one’s approach to life’s challenges. This psychotherapy was initially developed to treat patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

  • There are three primary components that make up mindfulness and they consist of a variety of essential practices.
  • It’s important to go to all of your scheduled individual DBT therapy sessions and group skill training sessions.
  • This concept highlights that life does not solely require making stark decisions; rather, one must navigate complex gray areas of acknowledging and adapting to circumstances simultaneously.
  • In a study of depressed elderly patients who met criteria for a personality disorder,15 investigators compared an adapted version of DBT plus antidepressant medications to medications only.
  • But, keep in mind, DBT is a bit like a complex puzzle – having a guide (a trained therapist) can make the journey smoother.
  • In addition to providing validation, DBT therapists also create a supportive environment by modeling and reinforcing adaptive behaviors and encouraging clients to practice new skills in their daily lives.

When difficult situations arise, instead of getting stuck in thought patterns that don’t help you process the situation (like thinking “this isn’t fair!”), distress tolerance teaches acceptance. Accepting things you don’t have control over can help you solve problems and improve low moods. Psychologist Marsha Linehan, PhD, developed dialectical behavior therapy in the 1980s for people with suicidal thoughts who also often lived with BPD. If you’re looking to build skills like mindfulness and emotional regulation in therapy, DBT could be a good option for you. At different stages of treatment, people explore traumatic experiences and emotional pain, which may be upsetting.


Remember that DBT remains an evolving form of therapy, and as research continues, it may expand to address other mental health disorders in the future. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy based on the idea that people can make positive changes in their lives by learning new skills and strategies to manage their emotions, behaviours, and relationships. An individual who regularly goes through intense negative emotions will benefit from learning how to regulate and control their emotions. Once a patient has learnt how to manage their feelings, they decrease their vulnerability to any form of painful emotions caused by situations that are entirely out of their control. The medical treatment was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsh M. Lineham, the theory behind the treatment was initially used to treat an individual with a borderline personality disorder and chronically suicidal individuals. However, the treatment has been slightly adapted to treat a variety of other mental health disorders successfully.

This increased awareness can help clients make more informed choices about how they respond to their emotions and experiences, leading to healthier coping strategies and improved overall well-being. Marsha M. Linehan developed the fundamental concept of radical acceptance as part of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). It involves accepting reality in its present form, without trying to deny or alter events that may be uncomfortable or distressing. The notion entails acknowledging difficult life circumstances and making peace with them through a practice of fully embracing their existence.

What are the Basic Principles of DBT therapy?

This isn’t to be confused with group therapy, in which you discuss your problems with others. DBT, short for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that is designed to help individuals with mental health issues live healthier and happier lives. DBT acknowledges the intrinsic connection between physical health dialectical behavioral therapy and mental well-being. Techniques such as mindful breathing, relaxation, and physical activity are incorporated into therapy sessions. These practices help clients establish a strong foundation for emotional stability. Dialectical thinking is a cornerstone of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and forms the basis for its therapeutic approach.

For instance, DBT’s mindfulness practices can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions. Often, gaining this awareness is the first step towards managing your mental health condition effectively. Emotional regulation equips you with tools to effectively manage intense emotions such as anger, anxiety, and sadness.

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