Skip to main content

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is founded on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspect of treatment. Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan developed dialectical behavior therapy in the late 1980s as a means to more effectively treat individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), suffering from chronic suicidal ideation. DBT combines standard CBT techniques for emotional regulation and reality testing with psycho-educational modules and concepts derived from Buddhist meditative practice such as awareness, mindfulness, and attentiveness to current situations and emotional experiences. Since its inception, dialectical behavior therapy has been and remains the gold standard method of treatment for individuals diagnosed with BPD and has also proven effective in treating an array of other mental health conditions.

Dialectical behavior therapy is a multifaceted, rigidly structured therapeutic approach. It is comprised of three distinct therapeutic settings, which include: weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching. DBT strives to help individuals learn to identify triggers outside of themselves and pair those triggers with healthy responses and coping mechanisms. This is accomplished through focusing on and cultivating therapeutic skills in four main areas, known as the four modules, which include:

  • Core mindfulness: the practice of being fully present and aware in the moment 
  • Distress tolerance: becoming tolerant of pain in difficult situations instead of attempting to change it
  • Emotion regulation: decreasing emotional impulsivity, learning to manage and shift intense, problematic emotions   
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: authentically advocating for one’s wants and needs in a relationship in a way that is both self-respecting and non-damaging

The skills focused on in each of the four modules are reinforced through the three therapeutic settings. Weekly one-on-one therapy sessions are intended to provide personalized support for individuals with processing experiences, addressing issues, navigating challenges, identifying successes, and clarifying any confusion regarding a DBT skill. Weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions are used to teach and help facilitate fostering skills in the four core areas. DBT relies on supportive resources, including handouts, worksheets, and workbooks to further highlight DBT skills that directly relate to topics covered in the different DBT skills training group therapy sessions. 

To provide additional opportunities for participants to continue to practice implementing the learned skills, there are a variety of DBT handouts that are assigned at different times throughout the program. Although it is possible to implement various aspects of DBT in a self-directed manner, an integral component of the DBT process is participating in weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions. For this reason, it would be difficult to glean all the benefits of DBT if you try to do it by yourself and is therefore not recommended as a treatment to do without professional support.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Back to top