Services & Therapy  |  Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)


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Dialectical behavior therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and was created by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. This evidence-based therapy has been heavily researched and validated to be effective with a variety of mental health concerns, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), Borderline Personality Disorder, suicidal ideation, self-harming behaviors, depression, and substance dependence.

The "D" in DBT stands for dialectical, which means a synthesis or integration of opposites. Dialectics are things that seem to be in conflict and yet they are both real or true. Dialectics can be balancing self and others, giving and getting, and winning and losing. DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals. All of the skills and strategies taught in DBT are balanced in terms of acceptance and change. For example, the four skills modules include two sets of acceptance-oriented skills (mindfulness and distress tolerance) and two sets of change-oriented skills (emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness).

The four sets of behavioral skills taught in DBT include:
  1. MINDFULNESS: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment. People that use mindfulness in their lives are able to stay in balance, remain nonjudgmental and be as effective as possible.

  2. DISTRESS TOLERANCE: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it. It's about being able to deal with stress, drama, and crises in skillful ways.

  3. EMOTIONAL REGULATION: how to change emotions that you want to change and learning impulse control. This includes tolerating and coping with emotions, impulses, urges and cravings while not acting on them automatically.

  4. INTERPERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others. One learns to balance investment in relationships, commitment to self and the ability to communicate effectively.

Call the Institute for Cognitive Therapy at (801) 802-8608.