Dialectical behavior therapy: Definition, Techniques, and it’s benefits

In the 1980s, Dr. Marsha Lineman created the therapeutic strategy known as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which was first intended to help people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Since then, DBT has been modified and shown to help treat several additional mental health illnesses characterized by emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, and trouble controlling strong emotions. DBT, which includes components of cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and mindfulness techniques, is a thorough and structured kind of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It is renowned for its dialectical approach, which aims to reconcile divergent points of view and strike a reasonable balance between notions like acceptance and transformation that, at first glance, appear to be at odds.


In this essay, I’ll talk about dialectical behavior therapy. Well, let’s dive right in!


What is dialectical behavior therapy?

A form of talk therapy (psychotherapy) is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). It is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but it has been modified especially for those who have extremely powerful emotional experiences. Using talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches patients how their beliefs influence their feelings and behaviors. “Dialectical” refers to harmonizing opposing viewpoints. DBT focuses on assisting clients in learning to improve their lives, including their harmful behaviors, as well as accepting the realities of their lives and behaviors.

What Are the Four DBT Techniques?

Dr. Marsha Lineman created Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a thorough therapy strategy, to assist people with emotional regulation issues, notably those with borderline personality disorder. To encourage emotional stability and enhance coping abilities, DBT uses a variety of approaches and procedures.

Mindfulness Skills

DBT’s basic component is mindfulness. It involves learning the ability to be totally in the present while objectively observing thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and grounding exercises are all examples of mindfulness approaches.

Distress Tolerance Skills

Techniques for managing distress try to prevent people from acting impulsively or destructively when faced with stressful events and strong emotions. Among these abilities are:

  • Using acceptable activities to divert attention from upsetting emotions is known as distraction.
  • Using self-soothing strategies, such as deep breathing, taking a warm bath, or relaxation methods.
  • Techniques for making the present more tolerable, such as finding purpose in one’s suffering or employing imagery,
  • Accepting Reality: Recognizing and accepting a situation’s reality, despite how unpleasant it may be

Emotion Regulation Skills

Effective emotion identification, comprehension, and management are made possible by using emotion regulation procedures. Among these abilities are:

  • Identifying Emotions: accurately identifying and labeling emotions as they occur
  • Promoting Positive Emotions: Taking part in activities that uplift the spirit and lessen emotional sensitivity
  • Identifying triggers and lowering vulnerability to unpleasant emotions through self-care and mindfulness are two ways to do this.
  • Changing Emotional Reactions: Acquiring the ability to alter the strength and length of emotional reactions by problem-solving or taking the opposite action

Interpersonal Effectiveness

The goal of interpersonal effectiveness skills is to guide people through relationships and make them better. Among these abilities are:

  • Learning to express oneself and successfully communicate one’s requirements in a scenario
  • Interpersonal effectiveness skills include methods for expressing rejection, asking for what you want, and juggling the demands of a relationship.
  • Understanding and enhancing relationships requires striking a balance between sustaining oneself and the relationship.

What is dialectical behavior therapy used for?

Borderline personality disorder-related issues like the following are treated with DBT:

  • Feeling hopeless or void inside
  • Poor self-esteem or intense thoughts of self-hatred
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Impulsive or risk-taking behavior
  • Unsteady partnerships
  • Self-harm, suicidal idealization, or attempted suicide

DBT is a treatment option that therapists provide for various mental illnesses. These consist of:

  • Issues with alcohol or drugs
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders like bulimia or binge eating
  • Emotional instability
  • (PTSD): post-traumatic stress disorder

What are the benefits of dialectical behavior therapy?

Numerous studies have shown that dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is effective in treating patients’ mental health issues. Particularly for those with borderline personality disorder, DBT has the following effects:

  • Less rage and self-harming habits.
  • Fewer days were spent hospitalized as an inpatient.
  • Less abuse of alcohol and drugs
  • A reduction in depressive symptoms.

DBT can be highly challenging, and it isn’t for everyone. You have a better chance of success with DBT if you:

  • Are dedicated to changing things for the better.
  • Are prepared to devote their complete attention to therapy and homework.
  • Are you prepared to put more emphasis on your current and future than your history?
  • Feel capable of participating in some sessions in a group setting.


How do I find a therapist for dialectical therapy?

A therapist might be a family therapist, psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist (a medical professional who can prescribe drugs), or psychiatric nurse. Finding the ideal therapist can take a while, and DBT treatment is no exception. Don’t give in to discouragement. You might ask your primary healthcare practitioner, friends, or family members for recommendations for a therapist who practices dialectical behavior therapy. Through regional and state psychological organizations, you may also search for therapists online.

A state-certified and licensed mental health practitioner must treat your area of concern (such as eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, self-harm, etc.), and any therapist you are considering seeing should be able to provide this care. The majority of therapists’ websites list the ailments and issues they handle. Before deciding, contact the therapist’s office with any inquiries via phone or email.

The following inquiries to a potential DBT therapist may be beneficial:

  • What kind of DBT training have you received?
  • Do you offer complete DBT or a modification of it? Why not, if not for thorough DBT?
  • Do you participate in a DBT consulting team?
  • What rules do you have about calls and emails during the workweek?
  • What initial time commitment will you make of mine for the duration of the therapeutic process?

How does dialectical behavior therapy work?

Intensive DBT emphasizes four strategies for boosting life skills:

  • The ability to experience strong emotions, such as anger, without behaving rashly or relieving one’s distress by harming oneself or abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Emotion regulation is the process of identifying, naming, and modifying emotions.
  • Increasing one’s self-awareness and attention to the current moment through mindfulness
  • Managing conflict and behaving assertively are key components of interpersonal effectiveness.

Related Article


Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a very successful form of therapy that combines mindfulness and acceptance approaches with cognitive-behavioral procedures. Its advantages include enhanced emotional control, social abilities, and general well being. For those who suffer with emotional dysregulation, DBT offers useful methods that can make their lives more rewarding and balanced.

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