What Is DBT?

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What Is DBT?

There are a few different forms of therapy with a slew of different acronyms. It can be difficult to keep it all straight. DBT is short for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Initially, DBT was used to treat borderline personality disorder. Today, DBT is used to treat many other disorders, including substance use disorders. 

“Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) provides clients with new skills to manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships,” according to Psychology Today. “DBT specifically focuses on providing therapeutic skills in four key areas: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.”


“Mindfulness focuses on improving an individual’s ability to accept and be present in the current moment.”

Distress Tolerance

“Distress tolerance is geared toward increasing a person’s tolerance of negative emotion, rather than trying to escape from it.

Emotion Regulation

“Emotion regulation covers strategies to manage and change intense emotions that are causing problems in a person’s life.”

Interpersonal Effectiveness

“Interpersonal effectiveness consists of techniques that allow a person to communicate with others in a way that is assertive, maintains self-respect, and strengthens relationships.”

For someone dealing with a mental illness, there are often intense negative emotions that accompany the person’s daily life. Sometimes, these emotions can surface when the individual is with other people. This leads to conflicts with relationships for the person with the mental illness. With DBT, the individual is taught to find balance in the gray areas. Things are never truly black or truly white — we live in these gray areas. We must learn to function and balance when things are not all or nothing. Through DBT, individuals are taught acceptance and change. 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be practiced in an individual therapy setting or in skills groups. When practiced in an individual therapy setting, the individual receives specialized attention. You will be able to work with a therapist about specific examples that come up in your life. You will be able to apply DBT skills to what you are talking about. While in skills groups, you will be urged to speak about your experiences. You will then feel the mutual support of the group. You may also receive “homework” when practicing DBT skills. Don’t let this scare you! You just practice what you are learning in your daily life. 

Pinnacle Recovery has many different programs that you could benefit from. If you have questions about DBT, call our staff today at 1-866-301-0573. We cannot wait to hear from you!

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