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Dialectical Behavior Therapy


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that combines Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Zen Buddhism. Created by Marsha Linehan, it was originally used to treat Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Now it is used to treat many different emotional dysregulation and impulse control disorders and symptoms.

DBT is made up of many skills that help you regulate your emotions, improve your relationships and withstand times of distress without impulsivity. These skills take practice to incorporate into your daily life. They work like a muscle, building up strength with practice over time. DBT teaches you which skills are best used when and how best to apply them.

The ultimate goal of DBT is to build a “life worth living.” It has a few core components that help you do this:

The first is the principle of dialectics. Black-and-white thinking is common among people who are diagnosed with ASD, BPD, and others. Dialectics is the shades of gray in between. The idea is that two opposing things can both be true. It’s something that learners have to accept.

Another core component is Mindfulness. In fact, it’s the first of four modules in the treatment program. Mindfulness practice helps you live in the moment and stop holding onto painful emotions. It also helps you gain the space from the troubling situation that you need to use other DBT skills.

DBT is evidence-based, meaning that there is research supporting its effectiveness. Data show reduced rates of suicidality, hospitalizations, and self-injury. Research on the efficacy of DBT for various disorders is ongoing.

The core of DBT is that there is a therapeutic alliance, where the professional and client are on the same level with no hierarchy and goals are to be agreed upon. DBT views clients as an ally who work together for solutions to help the client.