Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
The skills training and treatment model of DBT is applicable to people living with a range of mental health conditions. Practicing mindfulness helps people with and without mental health conditions to improve well-being, attention to the present moment, and increasing positive emotional experiences while decreasing negative emotions and distress. This is why people with depression, bipolar, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions may benefit from mindfulness practice and the other skills that form dialectical behavior therapy.
Reflection from a Client
“I was in counseling for 11 years straight and needed it even longer. I tried everything and nothing worked for any length of time. Then I was hospitalized, I was tired of seeing different therapists and trying yet another medication. I had given up hope that anything would work. I [saw] myself as broken and unfixable. Then I found DBT! DBT literally saved my life.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How effective is DBT?
To date, more than 30 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) produced by nearly 20 independent research groups in nine countries have demonstrated the effectiveness of DBT for certain populations. RCTs are the gold standard for health intervention research, and meta-analyses of this extensive research have found moderate to large significant effects indicating DBT is more effective than treatment as usual in reducing suicide attempts, non-suicidal self-injury, and anger, and improving general functioning among people with borderline personality disorder (Stoffers et al., 2012; Kliem et al., 2010).
What symptoms or diagnosis can be treated with DBT?
DBT has been found to be effective for a wide variety of mental health conditions including:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to childhood sexual abuse
- Major depression, including:
- Treatment-resistant major depression
- Older adults with chronic depression and one or more personality disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Transdiagnostic emotion dysregulation
- Suicidal and self-harming adolescents
- Pre-adolescent children with severe emotional and behavioral dysregulation
- Binge eating disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Borderline personality disorder, including those with co-occurring:
- Suicidal and self-harming behavior
- Substance use disorder
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- High irritability
- Self-harming individuals with a personality disorder
- Cluster B personality disorders
What will I learn in DBT?
- Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
- Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it
- Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
- Emotion Regulation: how to change emotions that you want to change