What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behavior Therapy (DBT) is a proven and evidence-based treatment that integrates the change-oriented technique of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with the acceptance strategies of eastern Zen practice. The result is a powerful and balanced treatment approach to help you identify and regulate emotions and improve your interactions with others and yourself.

Benefits of DBT Therapy

DBT therapy helps teens, young adults, and adults learn how to regulate their emotions, develop distress tolerance skills, create rewarding relationships, and accept themselves without judgment. DBT therapy focuses on ensuring client’s safety and developing effective coping skills while helping them create a life they want to live.

DBT therapy allows a personalized treatment approach while also offering guidance on the types of symptoms to target first. The trained DBT therapist helps evaluate, identify target symptoms, and set up the priority to address issues for impactful healing:

Life-threatening behaviors:

self-harm behaviors that can harm the person’s body or health are addressed first, such as suicidal ideation, suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury, and all forms of suicide.

Therapy-interfering behaviors:

Behaviors that interfere with the client receiving effective treatment are addressed next, such as arriving late to sessions, canceling appointments without a reason, or not collaborating toward the treatment goals.

Quality of life behaviors:

Behaviors that interfere with a reasonable quality of life, including actions that impact relationships, finances, substance abuse, and more.

Skills acquisition:

Learning new effective behaviors and skills to help achieve their life goals and improve their social interactions and view of themself.

4 Comprehensive DBT Components

When Marcia Linehan created Dialectical Behavior Therapy, she developed a cohesive and comprehensive psychotherapy treatment for both the suffering client and the practicing DBT Therapist. The patient has effective treatment and accountability, 7 days a week, to work on treatment targets, and the DBT Therapist has built in support and expert ongoing training to do this challenging but deeply rewarding work.

DBT Individual Therapy

DBT Individual Therapy is the hallmark of Comprehensive DBT. Individual DBT is a structured form of individual psychotherapy where identifying one’s target symptoms and tracking personal progress, through the DBT Diary Card is the core initial focus. Chain Analysis is a DBT exercise to help identify and analyze which DBT coping skills could have been used during a tough moment or situation.

DBT Skills Training

DBT Coping Skills is the “classroom” of DBT Therapy. DBT is an actual curriculum of coping skills and DBT Skills Groups are a powerful mix of both group psychotherapy and classroom style learning. The 5 DBT modules are Core Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Skills, Distress Tolerance, and Middle Path. In outpatient therapy, these modules rotate throughout the year.

Phone Coaching

DBT Therapists offer phone coaching during work hours and even after hours to their Comprehensive DBT Clients. Phone coaching is preventative. It is brief phone outreach (5-15 minutes) to the DBT Therapists before self-harming or self-destructing in any way. The client in a super tough moment reaches out to borrow the DBT therapist’s “Wise Mind”.

DBT Consultation Team

If your DBT Therapist practices adherent DBT, they participate in a Weekly DBT Consultation Team to make sure they are properly supported to support you, and are conducting DBT according to “best practice”.

5 DBT Coping Skills

During individual or group DBT, individuals learn specific coping skill sets to help them overcome problems with dysregulation so they can heal and create the life they want. The specific coping skill sets include:

1. Core Mindfulness

Developing a practice of being fully aware and present in the moment, connected, and tolerate full emotional experiencing.

2. Emotion Regulation

How to identify and manage emotions, by reducing reactivity and building upon positive life experience and good coping skills.

3. Distress Tolerance

How to tolerate and experience emotional pain and anxiety without engaging in self-destructive behavior or avoiding feelings; learning to successfully “urge surf” and not self-harm in any way.

4. Interpersonal Effectiveness

Learn effective communication skills such as how to ask for what you want, set boundaries while maintaining self-respect, learning how to have a successful and positive relationship with others.

5. Middle Path

Learning validation, dialectics, and effective communication for less polarized interactions and more mutual understanding.

Conditions Treated By DBT

Individual and group DBT therapy can help teens through adults struggling with:

  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Trauma
  • Unresolved grief
  • Self-harm
DBT Addresses 6 Types of Dysregulation

  • Emotional dysregulation - difficulties with managing emotions and anxiety, mood instability, impulsiveness, and problems with anger
  • Cognitive dysregulation - catastrophic, black-and-white, or all-or-nothing thinking
  • Self dysregulation - feelings of emptiness or disconnection and feelings of lack of self-concept and self-worth
  • Behavioral dysregulation - impulsive and self-harming behaviors and behaviors that can make one’s life worse not better
  • Interpersonal dysregulation - difficulty maintaining positive relationships and fears of rejection and abandonment
  • Self-management dysregulation - mood-dependent behavior and procrastination

DBT Skills Groups for Mental Health

Our Resilience DBT Skills Program offers the formal Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills set and incorporates Mindfulness Meditation, Stress Management, and the Expressive Arts Therapies for better self-care and richer self-expression.

Our groups programs serve Adolescents/Parents, Young Adults and University Students and Adults

Join a Group

How do I begin?

Our team is dually and expertly trained in the Treatment of Eating Disorders and DBT for Mental Health. Our Evidenced-Based approaches include FBT, CBT-E, DBT-ED, and Comprehensive DBT for co-occurring mental health conditions. Our outpatient practice has helped Children, Teens and Adults achieve full Eating Disorder Recovery and Mental Health Stability for over 25 years.


Schedule your 15 minute free phone consultation

This phone screening is highly confidential to help determine if coming to the Resilience practice is the best course for you or your loved one.


Complete an Expert and Comprehensive Intake

During your intake appointment we will gather more information to identify your stressors and needs. And work with you to develop your resilience treatment plan.


Get connected with Your Personalized Care Team

Meet with a practitioner to get started on your journey of healing and wellness you know you deserve.

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