Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP. The two components of DBT, individual psychotherapy and group skills training, help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills are for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
DBT was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is now recognized as an effective evidence-based psychological treatment for this population. In addition, research has demonstrated that DBT is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.
The term “dialectical” means a synthesis, or integration, of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals. In addition, 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).
At Lakeview Center for Psychotherapy we offer DBT skills training groups and individual DBT sessions. In skills training groups lectures and discussions focus on helping clients to manage emotions, learn to be more effective in relationships, and identify techniques for tolerating distress. Individual DBT therapy focuses on helping clients to stay motivated, understand how and why problem behaviors occur and identify alternative, more skillful ways of coping.