Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

This is a specific blend of cognitive and behavioural therapies developed to share acceptance-based strategies.  It is usually used in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder and is also used to treat individuals with eating disorders, addictions, anger problems and other impulsive behaviours.

Focus of Treatment Plan

DBT places emphasis on the psychosocial aspects of treatment (how a person interacts with others in different environments and relationships) and teaches behavioural skills to cope with sudden, intense surges of emotion like stress; how to regulate emotions; and improve relationships with others.

Comprehensive DBT focuses on four ways to enhance life skills:

  1. Distress tolerance: Feeling intense emotions like anger without reacting impulsively; using self-injury or substance abuse to relieve distress.
  2. Emotion regulation: Recognizing, labelling, and adjusting emotions.
  3. Mindfulness: Becoming more aware of self and others and attentive to the present moment.
  4. Interpersonal effectiveness: Navigating conflict and interacting assertively and not aggressively.

The emphasis is on teaching individuals how to manage emotional trauma rather than reducing or taking them out of crises.

DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and seeks to build upon the foundation of CBT, to help enhance its effectiveness.

Characteristics

Characteristics of DBT include helping individuals to:

  • Identify their strengths and build on them;
  • Identify thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions that make life harder and be able to learn different ways of thinking.

Participants may complete homework assignments, role-play new ways of interacting with others, and practice skills such as soothing themselves when upset.

The therapy offers a multistage approach that first targets self destructive, self-injurious and suicidal behaviours; then addresses quality of life skills such as regulating emotions; and then work towards improving life and enhancing self-respect and self-image.