Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy, first developed in the 1980s by Marsha M. Linehan, to treat patients suffering from borderline personality disorder. Since then, DBT’s use has broadened and now it is regularly employed as part of a treatment plan for people struggling with behaviors or emotions they can't control. This can include eating disorders, substance abuse, self-harm, and more. DBT is a skills-based approach that focuses on helping people increase their emotional and cognitive control by learning the triggers that lead to unwanted behaviors. Once triggers are identified, DBT teaches coping skills that include mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. A therapist specializing in DBT will help you to enhance your own capabilities, improve your motivation, provide support in-the-moment, and better manage your own life with problem-solving strategies. Think this approach might work for you? Reach out to one of TherapyDen’s DBT specialists today.

Meet the specialists

No matter who you work with, be aware that providers who offer individual therapy without a concurrent DBT skills group and phone coaching are not offering DBT, but DBT-informed treatment. This is an important distinction! In individual therapy, I frequently use the methods or structure of DBT to help develop new coping skills or to modify unhelpful coping behaviors. These skills are helpful for a number of concerns–especially to reduce behaviors that create additional suffering in your life.

— Marissa Lee, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, CA

DBT was originally developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan to support those struggling with Borderline Personality Disorder. DBT, however, has been found to also be helpful for individuals struggling with other concerns, such as anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders. DBT is focused on 4 specific modules: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness skills.

— Leslie Aguilar, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Studio City, CA

I utilize DBT to help learn how to live in the moment, manage stress, identify and take charge of your emotions, and improve relationships with others. I will provide you many tools and techniques to deal with the problem in the here and now.

— Nicole Byrne, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

I am truly passionate about the heart behind Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: radical acceptance of who you are and where you are in the moment, while making the changes necessary to be more aligned with your values. I'm currently under supervision for DBT by a Linehan Board of Certification, Certified clinician. I also believe wholeheartedly in the efficacy of mindfulness-based practices in order to become more aware of our thoughts and emotions and to be fully present in our lives.

— Sarah Fink, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Boston, MA

I am a registered yoga teacher (RYT-200), and I blend yoga and mindfulness techniques with the therapeutic principles of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) to treat anxiety, improve communication, and enhance emotional intelligence.

— Traci Patterson, Therapist in Chicago, IL

DBT is often touted as the treatment of choice for personality disorders; however, it is tremendously helpful for many issues. I do not use full model DBT but teach many of the skills and use chaining as a tool to delve deeper into problem behaviors. It amazes me what insights and transformations come from that intervention. The DBT approach of authenticity has given me permission to challenge clients in supportive ways that lead to growth more quickly than with other modalities.

— Joanna Morse, Psychologist in Brandon, FL

My first experience, after my master's program, of truly learning about and applying DBT into my work was in 2012. But it wasn't until 2018 that I began using those skills on a daily basis in adult group therapy sessions. The partial hospitalization program I worked for was rooted in the DBT approach, and I was fully immersed! It's now become an integral part of my private practice work.

— Kalene Khan, Marriage & Family Therapist

Originally developed for people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder, I believe this modality has concepts that help all of us! The number one tool here is mindfulness, which can help us slow things down in order to understand what is happening in the moment, and identify what is the most healthy response.

— Sara Rotger, Marriage & Family Therapist in Montrose, CA

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) suggests that individuals do the best they can, with what they have, in every situation. I've found that this approach allows me to provide a purely nonjudgmental approach, open to understanding the client's perspective. Immense healing can come from being heard, validated, understood, and accepted. I've been trained in DBT and utilizing the skills in therapy for over eight years. (NOTE: DBT skills are taught, but complete DBT requires skills groups as well.)

— Shelby Schrader, Licensed Professional Counselor

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that focuses on helping us manage emotional pain and successfully navigate our relationships. It seeks to accomplish these goals by improving one's ability to regulate difficult emotions, tolerate distressing feelings or experiences, practice acceptance for the things they cannot change, and communicate with others. These compose some of the hallmarks of my practice, and have helped my patients enormously.

— Saira Malhotra, Therapist in Greenwood Village, CO

I have received training in DBT skills to inform my practice with teens and adults who struggle with managing challenging emotions . I work by weaving DBT skills into my practice to assist clients in grounding themselves when emotions become too challenging to handle thru Emotional Regulation skills, being in the moment by implementing Mindfulness skills, developing healthy boundaries by implementing Interpersonal Effectiveness skills, and increasing their Tolerance to Distressful situations.

— Isabel Decian, Counselor in Auburn, WA

I have extensive training in dialectical behavior therapy. I have facilitated DBT groups to various populations in an outpatient setting since beginning my careers. I have also completed the Contextual Behavior Therapy Fellowship program at the University of Chicago in addition to multiple continuing education seminars.

— Michael Krusinsky, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Chicago, IL

I am not certified in DBT; however, I do enjoy using its tools and skills to improve flexibility in thinking and behavior.

— Liberty McClead, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Sharpsburg, GA

I have studied DBT in depth for several years and even went to a DBT therapist myself in graduate school when going to therapy was a requirement to graduate. So, I have professional and personal experience with DBT and I find that it is one of the most effective tools to use with Bipolar clients.

— Catharine Pritchard Hawks, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

I am intensively trained in DBT. I teach skills to individuals as well as to parents.

— Dr. Nancie Spector, Clinical Psychologist in NEW CANAAN, CT

I utilize DBT to help you how to live in the moment, manage stress, identify and take charge of your emotions, and improve relationships with others. I will provide you many tools and techniques to deal with the problem in the here and now.

— Nicole Byrne, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Is a wonderful combination of behavioral therapy and mindfulness practice to help you see the world from a different, open-minded and gratifying perspective. It also offers very practical tools to manage everyday life.

— Dr. Adriana Dyurich, Licensed Professional Counselor in Corpus Christi, TX

In DBT, we learn to think and act dialectically. A dialectic is when two opposing things are both true. The skills taught in DBT are mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal, and self compassion.

— Brandi Reinhard-Ferrese, Counselor in Bozeman, MT

In 2017, I completed the comprehensive training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy through the DBT Institute of Michigan. I co-facilitated a DBT Skills Group in 2018. Our work will be DBT informed and consistently utilized if there is a need for this service.

— Victoria Fisher, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Grand Rapids, MI

DBT teaches specific skills to help you cope with life's stressors and learn better ways of managing your emotions and communicating with others.

— Rachele Epp, Counselor in Fort Myers, FL

I have over 80 hours of training in this modality, but I am constantly learning more. It is effective in so many situations and allows for a full understanding of the person, and work towards goals that are 'worth living.' I especially enjoy the focus on finding synthesis in the areas of your life.

— Matt Coffman, Licensed Professional Counselor

DBT is about building a life worth living. It integrates practicing mindfulness, learning about emotions and relationships, and developing a toolbox of coping skills. I integrate DBT into many of my treatments to introduce ways in which you can concretely improve your life.

— Liz Gustafson, Psychologist in Los Angeles, CA

I focus on Emotional Regulation, Impulse Control, Distress Tolerance, Anger Management, Eeffective Communication.

— Briana Lefman, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Oceanside, CA

We are in the process of being a state registered DBT team and offering full DBT services under state supervision and training. Our trainer was directly trained by Marsha Linehand, the mastermind behind Dialectical Behavior Therapy. We seek to offer the model as intended by its creator and we not only offer it, but practice DBT skills in our own lives.

— The Wellness Counseling Center, LLC, Licensed Professional Counselor in Harrisonville, MO

I have experience providing DBT and the main goals are to teach people how to live in the moment, cope healthily with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with others.

— Brittany Woodley, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Dallas, TX