What is DBT?

DBT, or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, was developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD.  This mode of therapy was originally designed for and clinically proven to be effective in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder.  It is now being used to effectively treat individuals suffering from other disorders, including eating disorders, drug and alcohol dependence and chronic severe depression.

DBT is based many of the same principles as cognitive behavioral therapy and emphasizes the learning of new behaviors to deal with life and emotional issues.  At the same time, DBT includes the idea of acceptance so that clients can learn to better understand and cope with their personal difficulties.

One of the most important goals of DBT is to help clients create “lives worth living.”  This, of course, varies from person to person.

DBT therapy combines several types of treatment, including:  individual therapy, skills learned in a weekly group setting,  phone coaching with a therapist on an as-needed basis and a DBT team who supports the individual therapist.  Skills learned by clients fall into four categories:

  • mindfulness
  • emotional regulation
  • distress tolerance
  • interpersonal effectiveness

For an excellent discussion of the basic concepts of DBT, please see the “Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Frequently Asked Questions” on the Behavioral Tech website.