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What is DBT?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence based psychotherapy that combines aspects of traditional Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) with mindfulness and acceptance.


Originally developed for Borderline Personality Disorder, DBT has been adapted to treat people with other mental health concerns such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

DBT might be a good fit for you if you struggle in at least three of the following five areas:

1) Emotion dysregulation: having periods of long lasting, negative moods such as feeling steadily anxious, depressed,, or irritable over a period time, or experiencing rapid changes in your mood.

2) Behavioral dysregulation (impulsivity): having strong emotions that are difficult to tolerate in the moment, which leads to engaging in behaviors that have a negative impact on your life. This can include struggling with suicidal thoughts, self harm, aggression, drinking, drug use, etc. 

3) Interpersonal dysregulation: having trouble forming or maintaining friendships, standing up for yourself, keeping your self respect within relationships, getting what you want from others in a way that you feel good about, or abruptly ending relationships. 

4) Self dysregulation: confusion about who you are and what's important to you. Feelings of emptiness.  

5) Cognitive dysregulation: difficulty with understanding other perspectives, extremes in thinking, feeling disconnected from the present moment, or feeling like others are out to get you.


The overall goal of DBT is to create a life worth living so one of the first steps in therapy will be developing an idea of what you want your life to look like, including aspects of your life you’d like to change or keep the same.

Next, you’ll look at what problems may be getting in the way of those life goals and develop a plan with your therapist of how to overcome any obstacles in the way. One of the ways to break through any barriers is to learn the skills taught in DBT, which include emotion regulation, mindfulness, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.


In addition skills acquisition, DBT uses exposure techniques, problem solving, contingency management, and other thought restructuring approaches to help you make the changes you wish to make.

Your therapist will accept where you are on your journey and help you get to where you want to be.

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