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TL;DR What is DBT?




Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy designed to help individuals manage overwhelming emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and develop skills for coping with distressing situations. Developed by psychologist Dr. Marsha Linehan in the late 1980s, DBT combines elements of mindfulness, acceptance, and behavioral strategies.


Key components of DBT skills training include:

  • Mindfulness: Emphasizes being present in the moment without judgment, helping individuals observe and accept their thoughts, feelings, and sensations.

  • Distress Tolerance: Teaches skills to tolerate and survive crises without making impulsive or harmful decisions.

  • Emotion Regulation: Equips individuals with techniques to identify and manage intense emotions effectively, such as understanding triggers and implementing healthy coping mechanisms.

  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: Focuses on improving communication, assertiveness, and relationship-building skills, helping individuals navigate social interactions more effectively.

DBT is often used to treat conditions such as borderline personality disorder, substance abuse, eating disorders, and mood disorders. Adherent, research-based DBT involves four treatment modalities: individual therapy sessions, group skills training, telephone consultation, and clinicians participating on a consultation team, thus providing a comprehensive approach to addressing complex mental health challenges. DBT offers practical tools and strategies to help individuals lead more balanced and fulfilling lives by enhancing emotional regulation, interpersonal skills, and overall well-being.


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