Skip to main content

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy treatment that was originally developed by Psychologist Marsha M. Linehan, in the late 1980s, to help better treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). It is founded on the principals of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspects of treatment. DBT remains the gold-standard form of treatment for individuals with BPD and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), has since been recognized as an effective method of treatment for a wide range of other mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder (SUD), eating disorders, and more. As explained by Behavioral Tech, DBT focuses on teaching four sets or modules of behavioral skills, which include:

  • Core mindfulness: the practice of being completely present and aware in any given moment
  • Distress tolerance: increasing an individual’s tolerance of negative emotions as opposed to attempting to avoid or escape them
  • Emotion regulation: decreasing emotional impulsivity, learning to manage and shift intense, problematic emotions
  • Interpersonal effectiveness: authentically advocating for one’s own wants and needs in a relationship in a way that is both self-respecting and non-damaging

The therapeutic approach is comprised of three different therapy settings, including weekly individual psychotherapy sessions, weekly DBT skills training group therapy sessions, and as-needed phone coaching to provide additional support between the weekly individual and group sessions.

DBT Treatment Targets

DBT relies on a hierarchy of treatment targets to help the therapist determine the order in which problems should be addressed. The first and highest priority target behavior is any life-threatening behaviors, (e.g., suicide communications, suicidal ideation, and all forms of suicidal, non-suicidal self-injury, etc.). The subsequent treatment targets, in order of priority, according to the University of Washington, are:

  1. Therapy-interfering behaviors: This includes any behavior by the client and/ or therapist that interferes with the client receiving effective treatment (e.g., arriving late to sessions, cancelling appointments, etc.).
  2. Quality of life behaviors: This category includes any other type of behavior that interferes with clients having a reasonable quality of life (e.g., disorders, relationship problems, financial or housing crises, etc.).
  3. Skills acquisition: This refers to the need for clients to learn new skillful behaviors to replace ineffective behaviors and help them achieve their goals.

Clients who receive DBT typically have multiple problems that require treatment, which is why the hierarchy of treatment targets is so deeply embedded in the DBT framework.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options.

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

Back to top