Honor the power of your voice and begin your journey with us today!
Honor the power of your voice and begin your journey with us today!

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of behavioral therapy that focuses on helping individuals change patterns of behavior and thinking to improve their emotional regulation. It combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation with concepts like mindfulness, distress tolerance, and acceptance. 

At Royal Life Centers, we offer evidence-based intensive outpatient programs centered around dialectical behavior therapy. Our multidisciplinary team of doctors and master’s level clinicians provides clients with the highest quality care – both in individual and group settings.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

What Is DBT?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a form of talk therapy that assists in behavioral change and personal growth. DBT combines cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with mindfulness practice to help the client learn how to regulate emotions, cope with stressors, tolerate distress, reduce impulsive behaviors, and increase positive life choices. The focus is on helping the guest to become more aware of problematic patterns, while also teaching skills that can help them manage their thoughts and emotions in healthier ways.

Through individual therapy sessions and group meetings, guests learn how to identify personal triggers, understand the impact of their behavior on others, practice mindfulness techniques for self-awareness, and how to self-regulate their emotions. The overall goal of DBT is to help guests gain insight into the nature of their difficulties, while also learning effective strategies to cope with life’s challenges.

What Does DBT Treat?

Developed in the late 1980s by Marsha Linehan at the University of Washington, this form of behavioral therapy was first used as an approach to treating borderline personality disorder. For this reason, DBT is beneficial in the treatment of borderline personality disordered patients with coexisting substance abuse problems. Similarly, the strongest evidence for DBT as a useful treatment is for individuals with borderline personality disorder.

Since its development, DBT has successfully treated a wide variety of illnesses including substance use disorders and mental health conditions.

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) assists in the treatment of: 

Since its creation, dialectical behavior therapy helps people manage emotions by teaching them skills to pause, think, and use problem-solving skills to make healthy and informed decisions.

How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

These DBT therapy services provide support for guests when relationships, stress, and life becomes unmanageable on their own. To accomplish this, DBT focuses on helping people develop skills to manage difficult emotions, reduce relationship conflicts, and improve their quality of life.

Typically, dialectical behavior therapy includes:

At Royal Life Centers, our DBT program provides guests with healthy tools to cope with mental illness, substance abuse, and stressful situations. We create a safe, supportive environment that encourages positive relationships and healthy behavior changes.

DBT Skills Training

During DBT skills training sessions, guests learn techniques to manage their emotions, tolerate distress and improve interpersonal interactions by applying mindfulness to everyday activities.

In general skills training sessions also teach problem-solving and communication skills, as well as how to set personal boundaries. DBT skills training takes a deeper dive into 5 core DBT skills to promote personal growth and healing. During DBT skills training sessions, DBT-certified therapists provide education on DBT skills and helpful strategies to build healthy habits.

The four major DBT skills include:

DBT skills can help guests establish techniques to stay in the moment, communicate, tolerate stress, and regulate their emotions. Additionally, these services empower guests to take ownership of their health and well-being, build resilience, and create meaningful connections with those around them.

The Four Main DBT Skills

During DBT sessions, guests will actively participate in developing and practicing strategies that are tailored to their individual needs. The goals of DBT are to help participants develop skills related to mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation, and distress tolerance.


Core mindfulness centers around the concept of being mindful, or present in the moment. This skill is vital to being an active part of your own reality, and being in touch with yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness practices work to change your state of mind. As a result, mindfulness skills give you the opportunity to truly experience life without getting lost in negativity.

Distress Tolerance

The DBT skills for distress tolerance offer tools to be used as coping mechanisms for stress. Throughout life, there will be times of distress— the objective of distress tolerance skills is to effectively tolerate the distress in a healthy way, protecting your sense of self and sanity in the process. Distress tolerance is especially helpful for those who seem to feel emotions strongly.

Emotion Regulation

During DBT, emotion regulation is a module that represents emotional actions and reactions. Emotion regulation skills give you a sense of control when you are experiencing emotions intensely. Within emotion regulation, you will learn how to discern your emotion and your response to it. 

You will be able to understand your experience of emotions and ask yourself questions like “is my emotion matching the situation that caused it?”

Interpersonal Effectiveness

One of the most helpful modules for those who participate in dialectical behavior therapy is interpersonal effectiveness. This is because interpersonal skills help you to preserve or repair relationships. Interpersonal effectiveness is essentially how we communicate with others. Through learning interpersonal effectiveness skills, you will learn the most effective ways to communicate with others, whether it be for something they feel, need, think, or want.

DBT Skills Groups

Group therapy is a vital part of our treatment program and gives guests the opportunity to build meaningful connections with others facing similar struggles. DBT skills group sessions provide a place to openly discuss their experiences while engaging in interactive activities designed to encourage healing and growth. In addition, our peer-led group sessions give guests the opportunity to share their stories and listen to others while receiving positive feedback.

While participating in DBT skills groups, guests naturally gain insight from each other as well as practice DBT coping strategies. During each group, guests practice techniques to manage their emotions, tolerate stress, and improve interpersonal interactions by applying mindfulness to everyday activities.

DBT group sessions also provide an opportunity for guests to build healthy relationships with peers who are facing similar challenges while practicing mindfulness and interpersonal communication skills. For this reason, guests can develop healthier communication styles with their peers as they learn how to identify and express their feelings.

Individual DBT Therapy

Individual therapy sessions provide a safe space for guests to explore emotions and behavior without fear of judgment or criticism. In these private sessions, our therapists help guests process issues in depth while providing guidance and support.

More specifically, one-on-one DBT sessions encourage guests to identify the underlying causes of substance abuse. As they progress through treatment, each guest learns about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that feed their addiction. After, individual therapists provide guidance and advice to help our guests reshape their thinking. Then, guests work on developing healthy coping strategies for relapse prevention, managing triggers, and improving their quality of life. 

In individual therapy, guests work with their therapists on filling out DBT diary cards to keep track of their habits. Each week, guests mark their use of each DBT skill. Upon meeting with their primary therapist, they share the skills that they use throughout the week, detailing the successful situations. Then, they review any skills that they struggle to utilize regularly while collaborating with their therapist to solve their issues. As a result, guests are able to improve their self-awareness while integrating healthy behaviors into their daily routines.

How Does DBT Help In Rehab?

Mindfulness and emotional regulation skills can help individuals develop a greater understanding of themselves and their environment, while interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance can assist in managing relationships and tolerating difficult circumstances. In general, these skills are ideal for helping individuals who may be impulsive or have control issues. 

While mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills therapy raise fewer questions, many people are unfamiliar with “distress tolerance” skills. DBT distress tolerance skills work on the tendency of some individuals to experience negative emotions as unbearable and overwhelming. People with a low threshold for things not going their way can become overwhelmed when faced with mild levels of usual and customary day-to-day stress and sometimes react with not-very well-thought-out behaviors.

Together, the four DBT skills can specifically assist guests in managing behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. For this reason, these four skills offer guests the tools they need to take charge of their lives.

DBT At Royal Life Centers

Dialectical behavior therapy allows guests to be in control of their actions and reactions, in a well thought-out and understanding way. DBT offers up multiple perspectives and many different ways to look at one single situation, which is especially helpful for those in early recovery.

Similarly, DBT therapy helps our guests understand themselves and others, build self-confidence and self-esteem, increase motivation for change, become more mindful of their thoughts and feelings, improve communication and problem-solving skills, and develop healthier ways of dealing with stress. 

With the help of our knowledgeable and compassionate staff, guests can experience improved coping skills, better interpersonal relationships, increased self-awareness, and overall improved mental health.

Change your life with one call.
You can do it, We can help.