What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) integrates cognitive-behavioral approaches with Eastern practices, such as mindfulness and acceptance. Developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT has been shown to be especially helpful for individuals who struggle with suicidal thoughts and urges and/or self-harm behaviors. DBT is also beneficial for anyone wishing to learn techniques for soothing and calming the self, coping effectively with stress, and increasing their effectiveness in relationships.

See information on Current DBT Groups at Clarus Center

DBT typically involves individual therapy and group skills training. Working collaboratively with the therapist, clients learn skills and enhance their capabilities in four areas:

  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to cultivate awareness of thoughts, emotions, and present-moment experiences. Strategies include relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises, and practicing acceptance of life as it is in the moment.

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal Effectiveness provides an opportunity to explore how to be more successful in relationships with family members, friends, in intimate relationships, and at work. Skills are aimed at identifying goals and needs in relation to others, working effectively toward interpersonal goals, and coping with interpersonal conflict.

  • Emotion Regulation

Emotion Regulation focuses on understanding and effectively managing painful emotional states, such as anxiety, depression, guilt, and anger. Specific skills include increasing mindfulness to current emotions, identifying obstacles to changing emotions, reducing vulnerability to negative emotions, and increasing positive emotional experiencing.

  • Distress Tolerance

Distress Tolerance enhances the ability to deal with life stresses and manage crises in effective ways. Techniques for tolerating stressful situations when they cannot be immediately changed include distracting, self-soothing, and improving the moment.