Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy developed in the late 1980’s by psychologist Marsha M. Linehan. Initially it was designed to help treat borderline personality disorder, but now it is used to help treat a variety of mental health concerns such as substance dependence and addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders. Behavioral Tech notes that DBT includes skills such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

According to Psych Central, DBT is based on a theory that some people are more prone to react more intensely and out-of-the-ordinary towards certain emotional situations, especially as found in romantic, family, and friend relationships. DBT posits that these people often arouse easily, achieve higher stimulation, and take much longer to recover than others. With this, there are several components of DBT to assist with these concerns:


  • Support-oriented – DBT helps a person identify their strengths and build on those strengths so that they can feel better about themselves and their life.
  • Cognitive-based – DBT helps people identify their own thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that could be hindering their happiness and success.
  • Collaborative – DBT requires clients and therapists work together through problems and to practice newly learned skills through homework assignments given to clients by their therapist.


Good Therapy, an online therapist directory, describes 5 components that DBT is comprised of:

  • Capability enhancement – DBT aims to develop the client’s existing skills.
  • Generalization – DBT therapist utilize various techniques to encourage the transfer of skills from all settings. For example, a client may learn emotion regulation and be asked to practice it in their relationship or at work, and then to practice and discuss this same skill with their therapist later.
  • Motivational enhancement – DBT focuses on individualized treatment plans so that clients stay motivated.
  • Capability and motivational enhancement of therapists – Many clients that DBT therapists receive experience intense, severe mental health concerns and because of this, DBT therapist receive their own support to ensure they do not burnout or feel overwhelmed.
  • Structuring of the environment – If a client is seeking multiple therapy options within one center, the DBT therapist may ensure that positive skills learned are reinforced through all sessions.

DBT has proven to be an effective way to help individuals learn mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. “Homework” assignments allow the person to “take home” what they’ve learned and focus on their improvement outside of the session as well.

If you believe that you could benefit from therapy or if you may have a mental illness, speak with a health care professional today. New Vista Behavioral Health has several centers with licensed, supportive professionals who are ready to help you begin your journey to recovery. With an integrative and holistic approach, we believe in treating each person as an individual with unique needs. Call us today at 866-855-4202 to see how we can best meet your needs.

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