Dialectical behaviour therapy
Disclaimer: This DBT site is intended for Australian audiences. Information is general in nature and should not be relied on for diagnosis or treatment. You should consult a mental health professional for advice on your particular problems and the most appropriate treatment options.
What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)?
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is a form of psychological therapy which was developed for the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), particularly those individuals with self harm and/or suicidal urges. DBT has been shown by research to be an effective psychological treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. While the treatment of BPD remains probably the most common use of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, the DBT treatment approach is increasingly being applied to a range of other psychological disorders and problems, particularly disorders that include issues of emotional dysregulation such as bulimia.
Dialectical Behaviour therapy was developed by psychologist Dr Marsha Linehan (1993). DBT developed out of the recognition that traditional Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques, while of some assistance for symptoms of BPD, seemed to have limited impact on the core problems in BPD.
Dialectical Behaviour therapy combines traditional CBT with techniques such as mindfulness and acceptance, which are often associated with newer or “third wave” behavioural strategies. These
extra techniques focus particularly on teaching people with DBT emotion regulation skills to assist them in dealing with the sometimes overwhelmingly intense negative emotions which occur periodically in BPD and hinder sufferers from being able to progress in therapy.
By acquiring effective DBT emotion regulation skills, BPD sufferers frequently feel empowered able to be able to tackle the wide range of other issues in their lives which otherwise hem them in and frequently prevent them from reaching their full potential.
As well as the inclusion of some novel therapy techniques, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy differs from traditional CBT in the typical time frame for therapy. CBT is generally considered 'brief therapy' because clients are typically seen for somewhere between 6 and 20 visits (although there is obviously substantial variation. By contrast, because Borderline Personality Disorder is a chronic condition which involves very significant emotion coping difficulties, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy can be conducted in weekly or twice weekly visits over a year or more. Nonetheless the skills building group programme is designed to be run over
There are two forms of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Individual DBT and Group DBT. While based on the same underlying principles, DBT Group Therapy tends to focus on teaching practical coping skills, while individual DBT focuses on addressing issues specific to the individual client and assisting the client to put DBT skills into practice in everyday life. Click here for more information on group verses individual DBT.