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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Its core components are emotion regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. It’s part of the 3rd Generation of Behavioral Therapy and was developed by Marcia Linehan and her colleagues. It was originally developed for people with BPD who are chronically suicidal. Studies found that people who participated in DBT were less likely to drop out of treatment, had fewer hospitalizations, and better treatment outcomes overall. It has been adapted for children, adolescents, couples or as a tool for anyone who needs a little help with emotion regulation (including but not limited to substance use disorders, impulse control disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, and other personality disorders.)

DBT focuses on a biopsychosocial (bio- biological components; psycho- psychological components; social- sociological components) model of disorders. It uses dialects or opposing points to develop a broader perspective on problems, helps with learning to see the other side of problems (known as the dialectical pole), helps consider more options as a result, and helps a person get “unstuck.” DBT therapists work hard to understand the worldview of the person, validate their feelings, then help them consider alternative possibilities. DBT believes that emotions precede thoughts and helps people find solutions that are congruent with their goals.

DBT treatment is characterized by 4 stages: 1) Therapists help people make a commitment to treatment; 2) Desensitization to past traumas; 3) Focus on self-respect, problems living, and individual goals; 4) Have the person use better coping skills to help produce a greater capacity for happiness; integrate treatment approaches into everyday life.

The success rate for DBT is incredibly high. It works because it takes you to the root of the problem and helps you squash out dangerous or self destructive behavior. As someone with BPD I can tell you DBT has made all the difference in my recovery. 

Here is a link to the entire handouts and workbook for the second edition of DBT. 


  1. Pingback: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy | BPD Pieces of Me | MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!

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