Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides people with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas:

  • First, mindfulness focuses on improving an individual's ability to accept and be present in the current moment.
  • Second, distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it.
  • Third, emotion regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life.
  • Fourth, interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships.

DBT was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder.  However, research shows that DBT has also been used successfully to treat people experiencing depression, bulimia, binge-eating, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance abuse.  DBT skills help people to improve their ability to regulate emotions, tolerate distress and negative emotion, be mindful and present in the given moment, and communicate and interact effectively with others.

As its name suggests, DBT is influenced by the philosophical perspective of dialectics: balancing opposites.  The therapist consistently works with the individual to find ways to hold two seemingly opposite perspectives at once, promoting balance and avoiding black and white—the all-or-nothing styles of thinking.  In service of this balance, DBT promotes a “both-and” rather than an “either-or” outlook.  The dialectic at the heart of DBT is acceptance and change.

DBT can be used alone or in conjunction with other evidence-based practices such as EMDR and CBT as part of a comprehensive holistic treatment plan.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today to learn more about whether DBT is right for you.

*Due to COVID-19, all sessions will be conducted via telehealth only until further notice.