Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a transformative and evidence-based approach that combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with mindfulness techniques. It empowers individuals to develop essential skills for managing emotions, coping with stress, and improving interpersonal relationships.

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DBT is particularly effective in treating conditions like borderline personality disorder, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, making it a valuable resource for those seeking holistic mental health support.

What Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a modified form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), aims to instruct individuals on effective strategies for managing stress, regulating emotions and fostering mindful living.

Initially designed for treating borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT has been adapted to address various mental health conditions, extending its benefits to individuals struggling with challenges related to emotional regulation and engaging in self-destructive behaviors, including eating disorders and substance use disorders. Furthermore, DBT is occasionally utilized in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dialectical Therapy Techniques

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has undergone significant development and is now widely recognized as an evidence-based psychotherapy approach applied in the treatment of various conditions. DBT is commonly implemented in different settings, including the following:

Group therapy

In this context, individuals participate in a group setting where they receive instruction and guidance in acquiring behavioral skills. The focus is on learning and practicing effective strategies to manage emotions, cope with stress, and improve interpersonal interactions.

Individual therapy

DBT also involves one-on-one sessions with a trained professional. During these sessions, the acquired behavioral skills are tailored to address the specific challenges and difficulties faced by the individual. This personalized approach enhances the effectiveness of the therapy in the context of the person's unique circumstances.

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DBT also involves one-on-one sessions with a trained professional. During these sessions, the acquired behavioral skills are tailored to address the specific challenges and difficulties faced by the individual. This personalized approach enhances the effectiveness of the therapy in the context of the person's unique circumstances.

What is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) used for?

DBT works best for people who have difficulties in managing and regulating their emotions. It has been proven to be effective in treating an array of mental health conditions like:

  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Suicidal Behavior
  • Self-harm
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders, especially binge eating disorder and bulimia.
  • Substance use disorder.
  • Depression
  • Anxiety.

It is worth highlighting that the effectiveness of DBT in treating these conditions stems from the recognition that each of these conditions is linked to difficulties arising from maladaptive or problematic attempts to regulate intense negative emotions. Rather than relying on coping mechanisms that exacerbate the individual's challenges, DBT assists individuals in acquiring healthier and more adaptive strategies for managing their emotions.

How Does DBT Work?

Therapists utilizing dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) strive to achieve a harmonious equilibrium between validating individuals for who they are, acknowledging their struggles, and emphasizing the advantages of personal growth and change. Through this therapeutic approach, therapists assist in the acquisition of new skills aimed at enhancing emotional regulation.

While the specific structure of DBT sessions may vary among therapists, it typically encompasses four distinct types of sessions:

DBT pre-assessment.

This initial phase involves a comprehensive evaluation conducted by the therapist to assess the individual's needs, challenges, and suitability for DBT. It serves as a foundation for tailoring the therapy to the person's specific circumstances.

Individual therapy.

One-on-one sessions with a trained therapist form a crucial component of DBT. During these sessions, the therapist provides individualized guidance and support, working closely with the individual to address their unique emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Skills training in groups.

DBT incorporates group therapy sessions focused on skill development. In these group settings, individuals learn and practice various skills to effectively manage their emotions, navigate interpersonal relationships, cope with stress, and promote overall well-being.


This practice pertains to the act of cultivating complete awareness and concentration in the present moment, rather than being preoccupied with concerns about the past or future.

Distress tolerance

This entails the comprehension and effective management of emotions during challenging or stressful circumstances, without resorting to harmful or detrimental behaviors in response.

Interpersonal effectiveness

This involves developing the ability to express your desires and needs effectively, as well as establishing personal boundaries, all while maintaining respect for yourself and others.

Emotion regulation

This refers to the process of comprehending, heightening awareness of, and gaining greater control over one's emotions.

Telephone crisis coaching.

DBT also offers the provision of telephone crisis coaching. This component allows individuals to reach out to their therapist outside of scheduled sessions during times of crisis or when facing challenging situations. Through phone coaching, individuals receive timely support and guidance to manage and cope with immediate difficulties.

What are the benefits and risks of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)?

Multiple studies have provided evidence of the effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in assisting individuals with their mental health conditions. Specifically, for individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), DBT has been shown to yield the following positive outcomes:

1. Reduction in self-harming behaviors and anger.

2. Decrease in the number of days spent in inpatient hospitalization.

3. Diminished instances of drug and alcohol misuse.

4. Improvement in depressive symptoms.

The findings from these studies highlight the beneficial impact of DBT as a therapeutic approach for individuals with BPD, demonstrating its potential to alleviate various problematic behaviors and symptoms associated with the disorder.

Effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

By facilitating the enhancement of coping skills, this therapeutic approach empowers individuals to cultivate effective strategies for managing and expressing intense emotions. Moreover, research has indicated that the effectiveness of DBT transcends demographic factors such as age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and race/ethnicity, making it a universally applicable and beneficial treatment option.


Research has provided evidence of the effectiveness of DBT in treating borderline personality disorder (BPD) and mitigating the risk of suicide among individuals with BPD. Notably, a study revealed that over the course of one year of treatment, more than 75% of individuals diagnosed with BPD no longer fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for the disorder. This highlights the positive impact and potential remission achieved through DBT in addressing BPD symptoms and improving overall well-being.

For suicidal behavior

A different study indicated that interventions incorporating skills training as a fundamental element of treatment demonstrated greater effectiveness in reducing suicidality compared to DBT interventions that did not include skills training. This highlights the significance of integrating skills training into DBT as a critical factor in enhancing the therapeutic outcomes and reducing suicidal tendencies.

For other conditions

While the majority of research on DBT has primarily examined its effectiveness in addressing suicidal ideation and self-harm among individuals with borderline personality disorder, this therapeutic approach has shown potential as a successful treatment for various other mental health conditions. For instance, studies have indicated that DBT exhibits promising results in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety, suggesting its versatility and efficacy in addressing a broader range of psychological disorders.

How long will I need dialectical behavior therapy?

Typically, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) requires a minimum duration of six months to a year for effective implementation. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that each individual is distinct, and mental health conditions are multifaceted. Consequently, it is unrealistic to expect complete symptom remission or the absence of problematic behaviors within a year of undergoing DBT.

For the treatment of borderline personality disorder (BPD) specifically, many therapists acknowledge that the therapeutic journey often extends over several years. This extended timeframe accounts for the complexities and unique challenges associated with BPD, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and prolonged treatment approach to achieve significant and sustainable progress.

How do I find a DBT therapist?

When it comes to seeking a therapist who specializes in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), we understand that the process can be daunting and time-consuming. At Mindtalk, we aim to alleviate your concerns by offering a team of expert therapists who are well-versed in DBT.

Our dedicated experts in DBT are committed to providing high-quality care and support throughout your therapeutic journey. With our specialized knowledge and experience, we can assist you in navigating the complexities of your mental health challenges.


What is dialectical therapy used for?

Dialectical therapy is used to treat conditions such as borderline personality disorder, self-harm behaviors, emotional dysregulation, and suicidal tendencies.

What are the 4 steps of DBT?

The four steps of DBT include pre-assessment, individual therapy, group skills training, and telephone crisis coaching.

What are the 5 skills of DBT?

The five skills of DBT are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, and walking the middle path.

What is DBT used to treat?

DBT is used to treat various mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder, self-harm behaviors, emotional dysregulation, and substance use disorders.

Is DBT only for BPD?

No, DBT is not only for BPD. It can also be effective in treating other mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

How long does DBT therapy last?

DBT therapy typically lasts for a minimum of six months to a year, but the duration may vary based on individual needs and progress.

What is the success rate of DBT therapy?

DBT therapy has shown positive outcomes, with studies indicating a significant reduction in symptoms and improved overall well-being for individuals receiving treatment.

Why Mindtalk?

Mindtalk is a leading mental health provider from the Cadabams family bringing new-age therapeutic experiences. ‍