DBT – Dialectical Behavior Therapy: What is it and why is it important

DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is considered the most effective approach to treating patients with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).

From English Dialectical Behavior Therapy, it is a first-line structured therapy for people with high emotional dysregulation, self-injurious behavior and suicidal behavior, characteristics of TPL.

A variation on traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with elements of acceptance and mindfulness, DBT has also been shown to be effective in treating other disorders. Among them, bipolar mood disorder, eating disorder, substance use and other addictions, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Our dbt therapists in London are professional enough to provide the best therapy services.

The main objective of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) is that the patient learns to regulate extreme emotion and impulses, reducing dysfunctional behaviors dependent on the mood state. He also learns to trust and validate his own experiences, emotions, thoughts and behaviors.


Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was developed in the 1970s by American psychologist, teacher and writer Marsha Linehan.

A PhD in Social and Experimental Personality Psychology, she carries the scars of burns and cuts on her arms as evidence of her own overcoming of the disease, which almost led her to death by suicide.

DBT combines behavioral therapy techniques, dialectical philosophy, and reality-acceptance principles derived from Zen Buddhism (of which Marsha is a practitioner and teacher).


As a differential compared to other cognitive-behavioral programs, DBT is an intervention based on therapeutic principles and not on a treatment manual.

It is based on a hierarchy of therapeutic goals established based on their importance: solving suicidal and parasuicidal behaviors; change behaviors that interfere with the course of therapy; eliminate behaviors that affect quality of life; and develop the behavioral skills that help achieve well-being.

This structure enables a flexible approach depending on the needs of each patient. In addition, it makes reference to the change in the focus of the intervention.


DBT encompasses individual treatment, skills training (individual or group), inter-session coaching, and team consulting for therapists.

Individual therapy tends to be directive and based in the here and now, seeking to address the patient’s adaptive problems. Priority attention is given to suicidal and self-destructive behaviors and then to behaviors that interfere with therapy itself. Then come issues related to the patient’s quality of life and its improvement.

In the final phase of DBT, attention is given to intervening in psychological trauma and promoting self-respect. For some patients, it is necessary to find a deeper meaning for their existence. In these cases, therapy contemplates addressing issues such as living a meaningful life and spiritual aspects, particularly the feeling of belonging to the universe.


In skills or competence training, organized in modules and that can be done in a group, the patient is taught and practices a series of skills in which he has difficulty in his daily life .

For low self-efficacy, there is the Mindfulness Module, or mindfulness practices, which instructs in the skills of observing, describing and participating without judgment, seeking effectiveness, using a DBT concept called wise mind.

For emotional vulnerability, the Emotional Regulation Module helps to recognize, name and understand emotions, as well as modify emotional responses and manage extreme emotions.

As for impulsive behaviors, the DBT Distress Tolerance Module teaches crisis tolerance and survival skills.

Finally, for problems in relationships, the Interpersonal Effectiveness Module teaches the patient how to achieve their goals in relationships, maintaining self-respect, as well as cultivating relationships that are healthy and ending those that are not.

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