DBT is a specific type of therapy designed to help decrease life-threatening and life-interfering behaviors and increase positive coping mechanisms and meaningful relationships.

DBT makes certain assumptions about clients that drive the treatment.  These assumptions are as follows:

  • Clients are doing the best they can
  • Clients want to improve
  • Clients must learn new behaviors
  • Clients cannot fail in DBT
  • Clients may not have caused their problems and yet they still are responsible for solving them
  • Clients need to do better, try harder and be more motivated to change
  • Clients lives are unbearably miserable as they are currently being lived

DBT typically includes:

  1. Skills Training
  2. Individual Therapy
  3. Skills Coaching (over the phone)
  4. Therapist participation on a consultation team

There are 4 skill modules taught and practiced in DBT:

  1. Mindfulness:  Living without awareness is characteristic of impulsive behaviors and mood dependent behaviors.  Through mindfulness clients learn to achieve a non-judgmental awareness of their thoughts, feelings and actions.
  2. Distress Tolerance: Everyone has to deal with a certain amount of pain in life.  Distress tolerance skills help clients accept reality and cope with emotions when they cannot change the circumstances.
  3. Emotion Regulation:  Being emotionally dysregulated often leads to prolonged suffering and choosing ineffective coping strategies.  Clients learn to name and understand what they are feeling and how to decrease their suffering and vulnerability to suffering.
  4. Interpersonal Effectiveness: Emotions often get in the way of acting effectively in relationships.  These skills focus on helping clients interact with others in a way that promotes self-esteem and self-respect and decreases dependency.
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