Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy, first developed in the 1980s by Marsha M. Linehan, to treat patients suffering from borderline personality disorder. Since then, DBT’s use has broadened and now it is regularly employed as part of a treatment plan for people struggling with behaviors or emotions they can't control. This can include eating disorders, substance abuse, self-harm, and more. DBT is a skills-based approach that focuses on helping people increase their emotional and cognitive control by learning the triggers that lead to unwanted behaviors. Once triggers are identified, DBT teaches coping skills that include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. A therapist specializing in DBT will help you to enhance your own capabilities, improve your motivation, provide support in-the-moment, and better manage your own life with problem-solving strategies. Think this approach might work for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s DBT specialists today.

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Known as the third generation of Cognitive Behavior Therapy, I weave in many useful tools from the DBT camp to help clients learn practical ways to break problematic knee-jerk reaction patterns, get through patches of distress easier, get to a place of increased emotional stability, and do it all in a way that preserves and strengthens their relationships.

— Rebecca Lomeland, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA

I have specialized training in DBT to support a variety of mood states, emotions, and unusual experiences. The skills based approach of DBt can help you develop skills to stabilize your moods and find healthier ways of dealing with conflict.

— Kassie Love, Addictions Counselor in Alpharetta, GA

DBT was initially designed to treat people with suicidal behavior and borderline personality disorder. It has been adapted for other mental health problems that threaten a person's safety, relationships, work, and emotional well-being. DBT is helpful for clients who may have intense bursts of anger and aggression, moods that shift rapidly, and extreme sensitivity to rejection.

— Shari Grande, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Santa Clara, CA

One of the key goals of DBT is to "create a life worth living." DBT is highly effective for people who struggle with chronic thoughts of suicide, self-harm, and Borderline Personality Disorder. It is a structured approach that emphasizes emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. Many of the concepts and skills found within DBT can be very helpful and impactful for people with a wide variety of problems.

— Amber Sylvan, Psychologist in Ann Arbor, MI

Building psychological flexibility to ensure increased ability to learn and practice new skills while experiencing interpersonal effectiveness.

— Lauren Gardner, Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver, CO

DBT is all about how to be effective and skillful in any given moment. I was told a number of times that "DBT is CBT plus mindfulness". The ability to be aware of our own behaviors and how they impact our environment is so powerful. I love how direct and problem-solving oriented DBT is.

— Jaime Larson, Clinical Psychologist

Dhihum uses techniques from DBT to help clients manage their concerns like anger, anxiety, relationship issues, and so on. She uses this in combination with other approaches and techniques to help the client achieve their goals.

— Dhihum Kour, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York, NY

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is centered around developing mindfulness and being present in your daily world, increasing your distress tolerance to help you handle the chaos you have to deal with on the daily, regulating emotions to help keep you feeling balanced, and strengthening your interpersonal relationships skills to support having healthy, meaningful connections.

— Dr. Dana Avey, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Colorado Springs, CO

Our practice runs a DBT and RO DBT program with weekly skills group. Originally it was designed for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, which it's excellent at treating, but it's been shown through many studies to be helpful for many people. DBT helps us learn the skills to be more effective in life, have more control over our emotions while keeping them from having so much control over us, and helping us to be present with ourselves in the day to day.

— Trish Lockhart, Clinical Social Worker in Charlotte, NC

Through my PhD training, I have gained extensive experience integrating DBT into therapy with my clients. DBT is a skills-based therapy that is applicable (I believe!) to all humans, as its goals are truly universal in nature. DBT skills can help us to learn how to be more self-aware and mindful, to more effectively tolerate distress in our lives and manage challenging emotions, and to communicate with others more constructively. It can also help us understand our triggers and vulnerabilities.

— Solara Calderon, Clinical Psychologist in Encinitas, CA

"The term "dialectical" comes from the idea that bringing together two opposites in therapy -- acceptance and change -- brings better results than either one alone. A unique aspect of DBT is its focus on acceptance of a patient's experience as a way for therapists to reassure them -- and balance the work needed to change negative behaviors." (Taylor, 2022)

— Carol Ciancutti, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York City, NY

Though I adore "talk therapy," I truly appreciate the skills-based structure of DBT, which can be a useful way to ground insight-based therapy with practical application. Fun (or clunky) acronyms are the hallmarks of this modality, which has proven effective for folks dealing with everything from personality disorders & substance abuse to eating disorders & anxiety. DBT categories include Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness, and Mindfulness.

— Chelsea Hall, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Princeton, NJ

Originally developed for people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, I believe this modality has concepts that help all of us! The number one tool here is mindfulness, which can help us slow things down in order to understand what is happening in the moment, and identify what is the most healthy response.

— Sara Rotger, Marriage & Family Therapist in Montrose, CA

I incorporate DBT into sessions and teach skills such as mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation. My goal is to help you discover coping skills that can help you address the difficulties of life with confidence.

— Aika Shinkawa, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate in Dallas, TX

This is a cognitive form of treatment that is focused on four core skill groups which are meant to help people "live a life worth living". These four core skill groups include mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. DBT will teach you actionable skills to engage with your environment in order to help you regulate your emotions which may change ineffective thinking patterns as a result.

— Matthew Braman, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

I use elements of DBT with clients as necessary, especially when discharging from intensive outpatient programs. It helps to continue the work that began within the hospital program and create a more individualized plan to the client rather than with a group.

— Mallory Striesfeld - Healing Pathways of Houston, Licensed Professional Counselor in Houston, TX

I was first introduced to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) as a former client taking trauma-informed therapy. As someone who had a hard time coping with big emotions or overwhelming experiences, DBT's framework and skills allowed me to take a break from overwhelming and often overstimulating sensations that I was experiencing physically and emotionally. While studying social work, and clinical practice, I explored DBT further through my studies, practicum, and now private practice.

— Yasmin Jordan, Licensed Master of Social Work in New York, NY