What is DBT?

Marsha Linehan Photo Site

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a bio-social treatment developed in the 1980’s by Dr. Marsha Linehan. Linehan developed DBT to treat borderline personality disorder. Since then research has shown it to be a successful treatment for a variety of issues related to regulating emotions.

DBT Treats the Following Problems:

  1.  Painful and overwhelming emotions
  2. Feelings of hopelessness and despair
  3. Frequently changing and unpredictable moods
  4. Poor impulse control, particularly around substance abuse, eating problems, sexual addiction, and gambling/shopping addictions
  5. Feelings of emptiness and loneliness
  6. Difficult and volatile relationships
  7. Anxiety and depression
  8. Feelings of worthlessness and shame
  9. Suicidal thoughts
  10. Self-harming behaviour
  11. Fear of abandonment

DBT Has Four Components:

1) Skills training groups based on four modules: Basic Mindfulness Skills, Distress Tolerance Skills, Emotion Regulation Skills, and Interpersonal Relationship Skills,

2) Individual counselling sessions,

3) Brief phone coaching between sessions,

4) Participation of the therapist on a collaborative DBT team which meets weekly for supervision.

Many clients benefit from parts of DBT  but do not need the full program. However, DBT is the only treatment that has ever been found to successfully treat borderline personality disorder.

A DBT therapist works with the client to determine which parts of the treatment would help meet the person’s specific needs and goals.

Additional Resources:

Association Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies/FBT Fact Sheet

Marsha Linehan’s Behavioral Tech DBT Website

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Self-Assessment Quiz

Emotion Disregulation