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What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)?

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Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that works best for individuals who have difficulty managing their emotions. With guidance from a professional, it teaches coping skills to help people manage intense emotions, such as anger and anxiety, and build healthier relationships with themselves and others. In DBT, individuals learn to identify and change dysfunctional thinking and behavior, while also building self-acceptance. DBT was initially developed to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder, however, has since been effective in treating a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse/dependence.

With an empathetic and non-judgmental approach, DBT supports clients to become better able to participate in their own recovery. DBT is typically delivered in four parts: skills training, individual therapy, phone coaching, and peer support.

Skills Training

Clients learn one particular set of skills each week. The skills explored range from mindfulness and distress tolerance, to emotions regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. Skills training is organized in a classroom-like setting led by a qualified DBT therapist.

Individual Therapy

Clients meet individually with a DBT therapist. This is an important part of their treatment to work on major problems identified in the skills group. It is also a space for the therapist to provide personalized support and feedback to each individual.

Phone Coaching

Phone Coaching: During this part of treatment, clients can call their DBT therapist anytime in between the other sessions for guidance and support when needed.

Peer Support

Clients can also attend group meetings to share their stories and experiences while connecting with peers working on similar challenges.

The goal of DBT is to provide individuals with the tools for healthy emotional management and to help them build coping strategies for long-term life satisfaction. With the help of DBT, individuals can gain improved emotional and behavioral functioning, leading to improved relationships with themselves and others, and better mental health.


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