Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the integration of opposing concepts, such as acceptance and change. It is designed to help individuals regulate their emotions and thoughts, improve their relationships, and increase their sense of overall well-being.

DBT focuses on the present moment, while also incorporating mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques. DBT is centered around the concept of balancing acceptance and change. It recognizes that individuals can acknowledge their worth as a person while still striving to make positive changes for their mental health.

DBT is based on the principles of dialectics, which is the concept that two opposing forces can both be true and that change is possible through the integration of these opposing forces. This is the foundation for DBT’s goal of helping individuals balance their emotional, psychological, and behavioral responses to life events.

How Does Dialectical Behavior Therapy Work?

The theory behind DBT suggests that certain individuals have a tendency to react intensely to emotional situations, leading to problematic relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. These individuals experience rapid and extreme mood swings, viewing the world in black-and-white and frequently shifting from one crisis to another, resulting in strained relationships.

Without proper coping mechanisms, they often struggle to regulate their emotions. DBT aims to provide these individuals with the skills to reduce their intense emotional reactions and improve self-regulation.

In addition, DBT prioritizes validation of an individual’s positive qualities and strengths, instead of solely focusing on the negative aspects they wish to change. This helps individuals feel better about themselves and their life.

The Benefits of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT provides clients with new techniques to manage intense emotions and resolve conflicts in relationships. The therapy focuses on four key areas: mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.


Mindfulness skills aim to improve an individual’s ability to stay present in the moment and understand their emotions. The mindfulness component of DBT teaches individuals to reflect and train their brain to avoid dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness skills include observing thoughts, listening to oneself, and acknowledging fears.

Practicing mindfulness helps individuals avoid taking things personally and improve communication with others. Mindfulness is practiced throughout all stages of DBT and reinforced through weekly homework assignments.

Emotion Regulation

Emotion Regulation strategies help individuals manage intense emotions that are causing problems in their life. Depression symptoms, such as sadness, lack of motivation, fatigue, irritability, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and negative thoughts about self-worth, can vary from person to person.

Distress Tolerance

Distress Tolerance skills equip individuals with techniques to cope with and tolerate physical or emotional pain during a crisis. People with a low distress tolerance can become overwhelmed by mild levels of stress and react negatively.

Distress tolerance focuses on teaching clients to accept and tolerate painful situations instead of avoiding them. The distress tolerance module includes four skill categories: distracting, self-soothing, improving the moment, and focusing on pros and cons.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

Interpersonal Effectiveness skills are crucial in improving relationships and communication with others. DBT teaches individuals to approach conversations in a thoughtful and deliberate manner, rather than impulsively reacting to stress or intense emotions. Interpersonal effectiveness skills include the ability to ask for what you need and to say no when necessary.

The three components of interpersonal effectiveness are

  • objective effectiveness (the tangible outcome of the interaction)
  • relationship effectiveness (maintaining a conflict-free relationship)
  • self-respect effectiveness (maintaining personal values and dignity)

These factors must be considered and prioritized in each interaction for the individual to be satisfied with the outcome.

Who Can Benefit from Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

DBT is an effective treatment for a wide range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It can also be beneficial for individuals who struggle with emotion regulation, interpersonal relationships, and self-esteem.

Throughout DBT, weekly homework assignments are assigned to allow clients to practice and apply the new skills in real-life situations. This reinforces the techniques and helps individuals integrate them into their daily lives.

If you are interested in participating in DBT, it is important to find a qualified therapist who is trained in this specific form of therapy. A qualified DBT therapist will have received extensive training in this modality and will have a deep understanding of its principles and practices.

It May Be Time For

Psychological Support

This is an office that specializes in the treatment of women. There are times in life when a woman can feel off balance and can’t seem to snap out of it. When our own natural support system just isn’t enough, it may be time to reach out to a professional counselor to start the process of therapy.

Our new office in Portland provides effective and reliable Teletherapy services for women. It has proven to be a very viable way to meet with clients.  During our sessions, we meet face-to-face, utilize the whiteboard and share important visual materials with you.  We recognize the importance of a good therapeutic relationship and strive to build a positive rapport, treating each client with respect and dignity.  This office now accepts Medicaid clients.