What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Written by Aqsa Atiq

DBT is a kind of cognitive behavioural therapy that helps individuals regulate emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress. The focus of DBT is to learn how to accept the many facets of life and to develop skills that will help make it easier for you to navigate through them and make positive changes over time. 

How Does DBT Work?

This positive change is often done by analyzing the destructive behaviors and replacing them with a positive, healthy behavior. Through DBT you’ll pick up skills to not just accept the ranges of your emotions, but to also be able to sharpen your interpersonal skills. The core of DBT lies not in changing yourself but to learn to accept yourself.

How Does DBT Help?

“DBT was originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it has been adapted to treat other mental health conditions. It can help people who have difficulty with emotional regulation or are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors (eating disorders and substance use disorders).

 This type of therapy is also sometimes used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

DBT Techniques

Core Mindfulness

One important benefit of DBT is the development of mindfulness skills. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present or “live in the moment.”

Distress Tolerance

Distress tolerance skills help you accept yourself and your current situation. You will four techniques for handling a crisis:

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness helps you to become more assertive in a relationship (for example, expressing your needs and being able to say "no") while still keeping a relationship positive and healthy.

Emotion Regulation

Emotion regulation lets you navigate powerful feelings in a more effective way. The skills you learn will help you to identify, name, and change your emotions.