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10 Things Everyone Should Know About Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

By May 7, 2021July 13th, 2021Psychology

What is DBT?


A newer type of psychological treatment is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a therapy that was created in the 1980s and has been evolving ever since. DBT is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on changing behaviors, coping skills, self-awareness, and interpersonal relationships. Emotional outbursts are a common occurrence for some people.

DBT skills are what can help manage those. DBT can help control these episodes through mindful awareness and distress tolerance practices. It uses cognitive-behavioral skills to deal effectively with intense emotions when they arise. DBT is best suited for those whose feelings run high often and are highly sensitive during periods of great stress.

10 things everyone should know about DBT


1. DBT was originally used for regulating emotional distress

DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan for the treatment of people with borderline personality disorder or chronic suicidal behavior (Chapman, 2006). These are two of a much broader list of disorders. It is very beneficial for people with other mental health conditions as well. DBT involves cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and dialectical philosophy. The goal of the DBT treatment is to teach skills for managing emotions, regulating thoughts, and behaviors (Chapman, 2006). It also improves one’s relationships with others and accepting oneself in spite of flaws or shortcomings.



2. DBT is all about being mindful and aware

One of the most popular DBT techniques is mindfulness, which helps a person to pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without judgment. Being mindful can help with self-acceptance as it allows one to be more objective about themselves. DBT works to regulate the reactions based on automatic assumptions or preconceptions. Accepting oneself completely means recognizing that there are both good and bad moments. It is also about releasing shame and guilt while having awareness of the present.



3. DBT works to show a balance of opposites

In dialectical behavioral therapy, an individual is encouraged to see things as being both black and white–a balance of opposites (Nickelson, 2013). For example, when one experiences pain or emotional distress, the goal is not so much to eliminate it but rather to work with its intensity until it eventually subsides on its own. Processing through the emotions. For example, moving through the steps of REACH forgiveness could be used in line with other distress tolerance skills. Similarly, a therapist might help someone with techniques to regulate their emotions.

4. The benefits of DBT  have continued to grow

The benefits of DBT are numerous. DBT uses a system of self-regulation in line with cognitive-behavioral therapy. This can help an individual feel better about themselves. They can avoid future emotional distress or pain that could lead to addiction cravings, suicidal thoughts, or more. Being mindful of these situations arising and knowing when to use these distress skills is so important.


5. DBT can improve one’s relationships with others and themselves

DBT improves relationships and one’s quality of life. The dialectical approach is a non-judgmental, accepting way of perceiving thoughts and feelings.


6. DBT helps with the management of cravings for addiction

DBT can significantly help maintain sobriety or manage mental illness (Dimeff, 2006). Just as with CBT and REBT, the focus isn’t on changing an individual but rather on how to be more mindful in order to enhance their life experiences. Along with identifying what stage of change you are in, DBT can help move a person forward in their recovery. This often means recognizing when one’s thoughts or feelings are irrational and then teaching them ways to manage those thoughts.


This NIDA statistic is not to scare you, but to bring awareness to the fact that regulating your emotions with DBT can allow a more successful outcome as one works to maintain recovery. As with anything and especially emotional states, all skills take practice and time in order to gain strength and momentum toward the desired outcome. Evaluating what worked, what didn’t and adjusting the plan accordingly. There are always opportunities to be found if you happen to have a setup or relapse. It is what you choose to do moving forward that matters.


7. DBT is effective for a wide range of disorders and mental conditions

The well-researched DBT treatment is great for individuals with depression, borderline personality disorder (BPD), anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and addiction problems. The number of tools used in the program makes it a valuable solution to these very common mental health issues.


8. DBT benefits include providing a number of tools to use anytime, anywhere

The benefits of DBT include skills training, individual therapy sessions, and group-based meetings (skills groups). With these tools, an individual can learn to better identify what’s going on for them emotionally so they can work through it more effectively. For example: if one is diagnosed with depression, they can identify specific emotions that are contributing to their depression and learn how to better regulate these emotions.


9. DBT is effective in helping those with a history of trauma

Individuals with a history of trauma benefit from DBT. They work through the memories that trigger painful or traumatic responses when they’re triggered. This is common for those with PTSD.


10. DBT focuses on getting you back on track

DBT is also effective in many other disorders such as treating eating disorders because it focuses on behavioral change as opposed to just trying to get an individual’s eating patterns back on track. People with borderline personality disorder are great candidates for DBT. It helps regulate emotions, reduces impulsivity, and teaches skills that can be used in day-to-day life, which is truly something we all need. Individuals who have a history of suicidal behavior should consider this type of therapy as well. DBT also helps people with depression by teaching them how to identify emotions and manage stress. The DBT skills will always go back to the cycle that thoughts become feelings. Which those feelings then become our behavior that merges into a consistent rhymic pattern.




DBT Key Takeaways

  • DBT treats people with borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, and more.
  • The goal of dialectical behavior therapy is to help patients develop skills for managing their emotions better so they can lead more satisfying lives (Chapman, 2006).
  • It includes four main components: individual therapy sessions; group skills-training classes; telephone coaching between sessions; and therapist consultation team meetings.
  • This treatment helps a wide range of individuals. It is most effective in those who’ve had recurrent suicidal or self-harming behaviors. Especially those who have significant problems in relationships with family, friends, or at work.



You are not alone if you are just getting familiar with ideas in regulating your emotions. We want to help with that finding the individualized path that’s right for you. Our courses build resilience in our everyday lives, with a focus on self-healing from past trauma and addictions.

Ensure you have the built-in support, spiritual approach, and tools to retrain your brain. You have the power to transform your life and habits significantly. Satori Way is here to set the stage with what is right for you. Join us for a free course here!


Chapman A. L. (2006). Dialectical behavior therapy: current indications and unique elements. Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township))3(9), 62–68.

Dimeff, L. A., & Linehan, M. M. (2008). Dialectical behavior therapy for substance abusers. Addiction science & clinical practice4(2), 39–47.

Nickelson, Cheryl A.. (2013). Key Elements of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Retrieved from Sophia, the St. Catherine University repository website: