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

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

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is an empirically validated and widely popular cognitive approach that incorporates skills training and individual therapy to help client's increase motivation, manage stress, regulate emotional experiences and decrease unwanted behaviors. The goal is to make LIFE WORTH LIVING. This approach is dialectical, helping to break all or none thinking with a balanced Middle Path. DBT Skills Training Mindfulness Acceptance Interpersonal Effectiveness Emotion Regulation Distress Tolerance

— Stacy Ruse (Founder), Licensed Professional Counselor in Longmont, CO

I began my training in Dialectal Behavioral Therapy began in 2008. Over the last decade, I have completed years of consultation to ensure that my work evolved as the modality has evolved. Currently, I use this skill set to assist individuals who are looking to regulate their emotions and decrease episodes of distress. In my work, I have found that DBT provides a skill set that is helpful for coaching individuals who want more autonomy and power in their own lives.

— Julius Peterson, Clinical Social Worker in Decatur, GA

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be used in many capacities for many different concerns. I use it in every one of my sessions to help people incorporate self care, emotional regulation, and effective communication skills.

— Adrienne Marcellus, Mental Health Counselor in Colorado Springs, CO

In 2002, I received two weeks of paid training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy through San Mateo County in California. They were opening a new residential treatment center, and DBT was going to be the focus for treatment. I ran DBT groups with the county for over twelve years. I currently use DBT in all parts of my practice and run a bi-weekly art therapy/ DBT group.

— Deann Acton, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Austin, TX

Feeling overwhelmed, out of control, or like your feelings are too much? Find yourself shutting down, lashing out, or doing whatever you can to distract yourself from negative thoughts? Through DBT, you'll build personalized strategies for distress tolerance, emotion regulation, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness. You'll develop a stronger sense of your values and preferences, practice setting healthier boundaries, and design a life worth living.

— Lisa Andresen, ASW, Associate Clinical Social Worker in San Francisco, CA

Through training, I have learned and implemented DBT with clients. We work together as a team to build skills to have healthy relationships and to manage our emotions.

— Emmily Weldon, Counselor in Port St. Lucie, FL

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

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

Do you feel your mind is being pulled in a hundred different directions at once? Do you have a hard time handling some of your emotions, and does this cause any problems in your relationships? Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) offers individuals comprehensive skills to manage painful memories and emotions and decrease conflicts in their relationships.Many of us live our daily lives with a constant stream of uncontrollable negative emotions right under our awareness.

— Julie Williams, Counselor

My graduate training included an emphasis on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Additionally, I have completed post-graduate training in Dialectical Behavior Skills Training. This includes the skills of mindfulness (being in the present moment), emotion regulation (learning how to manage your emotions), distress tolerance (how to handle those moments of seemingly unbearable negative emotions), and interpersonal effectiveness (ways to interact more effectively with others).

— Charlotte Pennington, Psychologist in Lakeway, TX

I have four years of experience working in this DBT when I worked exclusively with highly reactive and impulsive clients. Over the last three years, I have found with a few adaptations, aspects of this therapy works great with my highly sensitive clients and those who struggle with emotional reactivity. (These are skills that everyone should understand at a basic level anyway.) These skills allow our work together to evolve into deeper processing and reframing past experiences.

— Carolyn Memmott, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in West Jordan, UT

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive behavioral treatment developed by Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP. It emphasizes individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help people learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a life that they experience as worth living. DBT skills include skills for mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.

— Kimberly Krueger MSW, LCSW, Counselor in Davidson, NC