What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, healthy coping with stress, regulate emotions and improve relationships with others.

Developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP. It emphasizes individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
DBT is derived from a philosophical process called dialectics. Dialectics is based on the concept that everything is composed of opposites and that change occurs when one opposing force is stronger than the other, or in more academic terms—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis.

More specifically, dialectics makes three basic assumptions:
*All things are interconnected.
*Change is constant and inevitable.
*Opposites can be integrated to form a closer approximation of the truth.

Thus in DBT, the patient and therapist are working to resolve the seeming contradiction between self-acceptance and change in order to bring about positive changes in the patient.

Another technique offered by Linehan and her colleagues was validation. Linehan and her team found that with validation, along with the push for change, patients were more likely to cooperate and less likely to suffer distress at the idea of change. The therapist validates that the person’s actions “make sense” within the context of his personal experiences without necessarily agreeing that they are the best approach to solving the problem.


It was originally intended for people with borderline personality disorder but has since been adapted for other conditions where the patient exhibits self-destructive behavior, such as eating disorders and substance abuse. It is also sometimes used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

DBT as a Type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
DBT has now evolved into a standard type of cognitive behavioral therapy. When a person is undergoing DBT, they can expect to participate in three therapeutic settings:

* A classroom where a person is taught behavioral skills by doing homework assignments and role playing new ways of interacting with people
* Individual therapy with a trained professional where those learned behavioral skills are adapted to a person’s personal life challenges
* Phone coaching in which a person can call their therapist to receive guidance on coping with a difficult at-the-moment situation

In DBT, individual therapists also meet with a consultation team to help them stay motivated in treating their patients and help them navigate difficult and complex issues. Here at Clarity Health Solutions, we utilize components of DBT and CBT to offer the most individualized approach for each person seeking growth.

You can read more about DBT Therapy here:




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