THERAPEUTIC RECOVERY NETWORK
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a modified type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Its main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, develop healthy ways to cope with stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships with others.
What is DBT?
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a structured program of psychotherapy with a strong educational component designed to provide skills for managing intense emotions and negotiating social relationships. Originally developed to treat the self-destructive impulses of chronic suicidal patients, it is also the treatment of choice for borderline personality disorder, emotion dysregulation, and a growing array of psychiatric conditions.
The “dialectic” in dialectical behavior therapy is an acknowledgment that real life is complex, and health is not a static thing, but an ongoing process hammered out through a continuous Socratic dialogue with the self and others. It is continually aimed at balancing opposing forces and investigating the truth of powerful negative emotions.
DBT acknowledges the need for change in a context of acceptance of situations and recognizes the constant flux of feelings—many of them contradictory—without having to get caught up in them. Therapist-teachers help patients understand and accept that thought is an inherently messy process. DBT is itself an interplay of science and practice.
With its strong emphasis on emotion regulation skills, DBT is finding application as a treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions. They include:
- Personality disorders, including borderline personality disorder
- Disordered eating
- Substance Use Disorder