Dialectical Behavior Therapy
What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?​

DBT is a style of cognitive behavior therapy that aims to examine the relationship between thoughts, feelings and behaviors. DBT was initially developed by Marsha Linehan, who adapted cognitive therapy to address the needs of clients who have a harder time implementing change. Where traditional cognitive therapy attempts to work with thoughts and feelings in order to change behaviors, DBT begins by targeting behaviors in order to change thoughts and feelings. This is important for many people who, despite knowing better, continue to engage in behaviors that negatively impact their lives.

DBT is has been found to be highly effective in treating a wide range of disorders, including borderline personality disorder, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and trauma-related disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder.  To learn more about how DBT was developed, click here .

How Is DBT Different from Things I’ve Tried?

DBT goes beyond talking about your thoughts and feelings. What you do, your behavior, is just as important. Every time you attend DBT therapy, you will talk about how you are applying what you have learned. You'll get chances to practice outside of therapy and coaching.​

DBT understands that changing is not easy. You will be accepted and validated for all of your efforts, even when you feel stuck. DBT is about accepting yourself right now AND working towards your goals for change.

DBT's focus extends past solving immediate problems. Its goal is to create a life worth living.

DBT was developed specifically for people who have been considered hard to treat and high risk.

Why Does DBT Work?

  • DBT looks at the whole picture. It is a biopsychosocial model. This is a way of saying that you and your therapist will understand how your body, mind, and environment all work together. With the big picture in mind, DBT helps people understand why they may feel things more intensely than others and stay stuck in self-destructive patterns.

  • DBT is skills based. You will learn skills that will help you both accept where you are now and allow space to change. Using these skills will help move you closer to living the life you want and deserve  to live. This is what DBT calls dialectical thinking.

  • DBT is evidence based. This means there has been research conducted with people who have used DBT that demonstrates that DBT actually works to help people change their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. ​For more information on research supporting DBT's effectiveness, click here.

Could You Benefit from DBT?​

DBT targets four areas:

Mindfulness: feeling connected to what is happening right now, safely experiencing your bodily sensations, learning relaxation skills

Distress Tolerance: having strategies to get through distress,  knowing you can stand it, learning to catch yourself before feelings seem too big to handle, responding and taking care of yourself

Emotion Regulation: recognizing feelings, learning to experience feelings safely, believing you do not always have to act on every feeling

Interpersonal Effectiveness: knowing how to express yourself to others, being comfortable saying no, going through a conflict with someone without having to end the relationship, allowing yourself to feel close to others

Take the Quiz: Is DBT Right for Me?