How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Works

Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a therapy that gives you the specific support you need. How does DBT work?  DBT was originally created to treat borderline personality disorder. However, over time, it has been found to be useful in addiction therapy as well.   DBT works by emphasizing taking a patient-centered approach to therapy. The therapist’s role is to help the patient identify and understand their emotional needs, way of thinking, and behaviors and provide support through the treatment process.

DBT is based on the principle that negative emotions are unavoidable, but they are not insurmountable.

How Does Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy Work?

DBT focuses on the idea that people need to learn to tolerate any emotion, even the difficult ones. Therefore, DBT teaches people skills to cope with difficult emotions and regulate their own emotions more successfully.

Through the process, patients learn mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.

Dialectical-Behavioral Therapy Explained

DTB involves group therapy, individual therapy, phone coaching, and videotaping. Here is an overview of how dialectical behavior therapy works and what treatment involves:

Group Therapy

Group therapy teaches a range of DBT skills and concepts to the clients. The therapists organize and lead several group sessions on mindfulness, emotion logging, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness each week.

These exercises allow people to learn from others’ experiences and receive feedback on their progress. In addition, group therapy offers new perspectives on living with the symptoms that patients may face.

Individual Therapy

It is a crucial component of DBT. Individual therapy with a DBT therapist focuses on teaching skills and supplementing group therapy. It is a time for the therapist and client to work on specific skills and give support and guidance.

In DBT, individual therapy is different from traditional individual therapy in that the therapist will often take an active role in teaching skills. The counselor will also help the client identify and recognize behavioral patterns and develop specific coping skills.

Phone Coaching

DBT phone coaching is a way to work with clients who need more support than DBT skills coaching can offer. A DBT phone coach will work with you on the phone and provide you with feedback, encouragement, and the tools to deal with challenging situations.


Videotaping is an essential part of DBT as it helps clients and therapists better understand the many facets of a client’s symptoms. It also allows therapists to understand how the client responds to various triggers.

The process provides additional benefits, such as:

  • Teaches patients how they appear to others and how their behaviors affect others,
  • Patients are videotaped during therapy sessions to see how they change over time.
  • The videotapes may be edited together for the patients to watch as an aide to treatment.

Which Disorders Does DBT Therapy Treat?

DBT is a treatment modality for many mental health disorders. The most common conditions treated with DBT are:

Borderline Personality Disorder (BDP)

It is a mental illness characterized by pervasive instability in mood, interpersonal relationships, and self-image. For example, people with a borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger and violence and typically do not trust other people.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

MDD is a mental disorder that can cause an individual to experience bouts of intense sadness and loss of interest in regular activities they used to previously. It also includes withdrawal from friends and family, troubled sleep patterns, and various other factors.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Uses:

  • DBT is a proven treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder.
  • It is an effective treatment for those suffering from depression and suicidal ideation.
  • DBT is a proven treatment for those suffering from substance abuse and addiction.
  • Some practitioners are using DBP as an approach to help patients overcome eating disorders.

Things To Consider Before Opting For Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

  1. This type of therapy effectively treats people with Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, and addiction.
  2. This type of therapy is generally more helpful for people looking to challenge how they think.
  3. The patient should be committed to the process and willing to put in a lot of work for change.
  4. The patients will be well served by a solid social support system that can help them stay committed to the process.

How To Get Started With DBT?

There are many ways to begin. It’s a good idea to find a skilled DBT therapist in your area, such as those at ARIA. If you are already working with a therapist, their insights into your situation will allow them to share what is appropriate for your needs.

At Addiction Recovery Institute of America, we aim to provide you with everything you need to achieve long-term recovery. ARIA strives to deliver a program and treatment plan specifically designed to meet your individual needs. Contact us today for consultation and evaluation.