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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. 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.

Calm Woman


DBT was originally intended to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), but it has been adapted to treat other mental health conditions.

DBT incorporates a philosophical process called dialectics. Dialectics is based on the concept that everything is composed of opposites and that change occurs when there is a "dialogue" between opposing forces.

In more academic terms, dialectics can be summarized as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. The process makes three basic assumptions:

  • All things are interconnected.

  • Change is constant and inevitable.

  • Opposites can be integrated to form a closer approximation of the truth.

In DBT, a client and therapist work to resolve the apparent contradiction between self-acceptance and change to bring about positive changes in the patient.

In practice, the therapist validates that a client's actions "make sense" within the context of their personal experiences without necessarily agreeing that they are the best approach to solving a problem.

Who it Helps

DBT can help people who have difficulty with emotional regulation or are exhibiting self-destructive behaviors (eating disorders and substance use disorders). DBT is sometimes used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How it Works

In DBT, individual therapists also meet with a consultation team to help them cope with the emotional demands of treating their patients. Consultation teams also help therapists navigate difficult and complex issues related to providing therapy.

What's in It for You

DBT can help you manage your ADHD, BPD, ED, GAD, OCD, PTSD and major depressive disorder. Managing these types of difficult mental illnesses can give you the freedom to  live  a more fulfilled and happier life.

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