What is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)?
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is an evidence based therapy designed to help people manage overwhelming and intense emotions, improve relationships, and build a life worth living. DBT is based on a biosocial theory; an understanding that the interaction between a person’s biology and their environment leads to problematic patterns, often starting from early in life.
Based on this understanding, DBT supports clients to learn and apply a range of psychological skills. DBT skills include ways to understand and manage emotions, ways to tolerate distressing situations (without making them worse), mindfulness skills to take hold of your mind, and a range of skills to find balance in relationships. Skills training is traditionally offered in a group setting, though may also be offered individually.
Regular individual therapy sessions provide the opportunity to understand personal difficulties in depth, and to practice using skills to change these patterns. Support to generalise skills traditionally takes the form of telephone coaching outside of sessions, though may also be offered via email. The full model of DBT includes all four of these components of treatment, however DBT informed treatment including just one element (e.g. group alone) can be clinically effective in some situations. DBT is typically a longer term treatment, spanning a year or more.
Who is DBT for?
It was initially developed to help people struggling with chronic suicidality and self harm, alongside the impulsive and self-damaging behaviours often diagnosed as ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’.
Research has since shown DBT is also helpful for other difficulties such as substance dependence, eating disorders, post traumatic stress, and depression.