Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), created by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., ABPP, at the University of Washington, is a thorough cognitive- behavioral treatment that was originally developed to address treatment of chronically suicidal individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). Research has shown that DBT is effective at treating individuals with suicidal and other multiple occurring significant dysfunctional behaviors.

Clinical trials using DBT programs for treating adolescent based difficulties associated with suicidal, self- harmful and other quality of life interfering behaviors are currently being done. Initial findings suggest its use is an effective intervention approach for this population.

How DBT Works:

It is a ‘life worth living program’ (Linehan, 1993). DBT is not a suicide prevention program. It balances therapeutic warmth, empathy and acceptance of the person dealing with difficult circumstances through strategic behavioral change strategies that address negativistic or problematic thinking styles and teaches the individual to more effectively regulate their emotional and interpersonal experiences.

DBT Modes:

  1. Skills Training  teaches new behavior skills through mindfulness, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  2. Individual Therapy – helps the individual to apply what is learned in skills training to their life outside of therapy.
  3. Telephone Coaching – helps the individual further generalize the development of effective coping when in crises.
  4. Structuring the Environment  – support through consultation & restructuring of the individual’s environments (family & friends).
  5. Consultation Team – therapy for the therapists to support their work with clients in skills training & therapy.

Learn more about DBT through this informative video