Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a kind of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (CBT) developed in the late 1980s to help treat borderline personality disorder.


It has since been used to treat other kinds of mental health illnesses, including borderline personality disordered patients with coexisting substance abuse problems.



As a CBT analogue, DBT is a skills training therapy and includes 4 main DBT skills:


  1. Core mindfulness
  2. Distress tolerance
  3. Emotion regulation
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness.


Together, the four skills-therapy components are designed to specifically assist guests in managing behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. These components are ideal for helping individuals who may be impulsive or described as having control issues. The strongest evidence for DBT as a useful treatment is for individuals with a borderline personality disorder.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy - DBT

4 Main DBT Skills


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, being in-touch with yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness lends itself to a state-of-mind that is ever-present, giving you the opportunity to truly experience life.

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 behavioral 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.

Mindfulness, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills therapy usually raise fewer questions than “distress tolerance” skills therapy. 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.

Recover With Dialectical Behavior Therapy​

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.

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