Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy tries to identify and change negative thinking patterns and pushes for positive behavioral changes.
DBT may be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors. It teaches patients skills to cope with, and change, unhealthy behaviors.
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What's Unique About Dialectical Behavioral Therapy?
The term "dialectical" comes from the idea that bringing together two opposites in therapy -- acceptance and change -- brings better results than either one alone.
A unique aspect of DBT is its focus on acceptance of a patient's experience as a way for therapists to reassure them -- and balance the work needed to change negative behaviors.
Standard comprehensive DBT has four parts:
Group skills training
Phone coaching, if needed for crises between sessions
Consultation group for health care providers to stay motivated and discuss patient care
Patients agree to do homework to practice new skills. This includes filling out daily "diary cards" to track more than 40 emotions, urges, behaviors, and skills, such as lying, self-injury, or self-respect.
What Conditions Does DBT Treat?
Dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on high-risk, tough-to-treat patients. These patients often have multiple diagnoses.
Borderline personality disorder is a disorder that leads to acute emotional distress. Patients may have intense bursts of anger and aggression, moods that shift rapidly, and extreme sensitivity to rejection.
People with borderline personality disorder may have difficulty regulating emotions. They experience instability in: