Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a cognitive-behavioural treatment that was originally developed to treat suicidal behaviour, and has since evolved as an empirically-supported treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It is useful for individuals who have difficulties regulating their emotions, meaning they find that their negative emotions increase quickly, are often particularly intense, and last for a long time. These intense emotions often occur in important relationships, such as those with friends, family, and romantic partners.

DBT is based on dialectical philosophy, meaning that it embraces two seemingly opposed ideas. The first idea is clients’ acceptance of their present moment experience, and the second is a commitment to change. The acceptance-based tools are derived from zen practice and the change-based tools are based on principles of behaviour therapy.

The overarching goal of DBT is to help individuals obtain a life worth living. By employing a balance of acceptance and change, clients are taught to accept their experience and emotions, while simultaneously learning and strengthening behavioural skills to work towards their goals. DBT is a collaborative therapy (i.e., emphasizing the relationship between clients and therapists) with principles nested within a compassionate framework.