How does Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) work?

Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) works by adhering to the core principles of DBT; mindfulness, acceptance, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation. DBT starts by learning to become more aware of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours in the present moment. Learning how to accept ourselves and our experiences, even if they are unpleasant as well as learning to cope with difficult emotions and situations without making them worse. As a result, you can learn to control your emotions in healthy ways.

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Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy that was developed in the late 1980s by psychologist Marsha Linehan. DBT is designed to help individuals with a range of mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorders, among others.

DBT is based on the principles of mindfulness, acceptance, and change and involves a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and skills training. The therapy aims to help individuals develop skills for managing difficult emotions, improving interpersonal relationships, and increasing overall well-being.

Specifically, DBT can help with:

  1. Emotional dysregulation: DBT can help individuals learn to identify and regulate intense emotions, such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, in a healthy and adaptive way.
  2. Interpersonal difficulties: DBT can help individuals develop more effective communication and relationship skills, which can improve their ability to connect with others and maintain healthy relationships.
  3. Impulsivity: DBT can help individuals learn to identify and manage impulsive behaviours, such as substance abuse or binge eating, that may be harmful to their well-being.
  4. Suicidal thoughts and behaviours: DBT has been shown to be an effective treatment for reducing suicidal thoughts and behaviours in individuals with borderline personality disorder.
  5. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): DBT skills, such as mindfulness and distress tolerance, can be helpful for managing symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts and avoidance behaviours.


Overall, DBT is a flexible and evidence-based treatment approach that can be adapted to meet the specific needs of each individual. By providing skills and support for managing difficult emotions and behaviours, DBT can help individuals with a range of mental health conditions improve their quality of life and achieve their goals.

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