Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a powerful evidenced-based form of therapy, was originally developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in 1993, to treat chronically suicidal patients with borderline personality disorder. DBT, which combines cognitive-behavioral therapy and the concepts of mindfulness and validation, is extraordinarily effective in the treatment of disorders in which the core problem is emotional dysregulation. In recent years, the effectiveness of DBT with a wider range of populations has become apparent.

DBT helps clients to identify and work on resolving areas of conflict in their lives in a somewhat different way than they might have in the past. Supported by a validating environment, using DBT clients explore their emotions, thoughts and behavior. Clients who have problems with emotional dysregulation may try to avoid any emotional feelings at all. On the other hand, they often experience their emotions in such an extreme way that it brings them a great deal of pain and interferes with healthy living and relationships. One of the central dialectics examined in DBT is that of acceptance and change. DBT provides for clients problem solving skills that target four pillars:  Mindfulness; Distress Tolerance; Emotion Regulation; and Interpersonal Effectiveness.

In working with clients in recovery from addiction, I especially utilize a number of elements from this therapeutic approach. Clients report that it is extremely helpful.