Dialectical Behavior Therapy

When you are able to recognize and cope with intense negative emotions (for example, anger), it reduces your emotional vulnerability and helps you have more positive emotional experiences. Emotion regulation lets you navigate powerful feelings in a more effective way. The skills you learn will help you to identify, name, and change your emotions. Many therapists believe that the treatment for borderline personality disorder, in particular, can often take several years. DBT focuses on helping people accept the reality of their lives and their behaviors, as well as helping them learn to change their lives, including their unhelpful behaviors.

They are usually made when patients have an immediate crisis or need some advice on how to implement DBT skills. Lorandini notes that all patients are encouraged to fill out a weekly “diary card,” which is a self-monitoring dialectical behavioral therapy chart used to document urges, behaviors, emotions, and skills. It was originally developed to treat people with BPD with chronic suicidal thoughts or behaviors, according to the University of Washington.


Therapists teach patients mindfulness skills in skills training, encourage mindfulness in individual therapy, and often practice mindfulness themselves. In summary, the patients for whom DBT has the strongest and most consistent empirical support include parasuicidal women with BPD. There also are some promising data on DBT for women with BPD who struggle with substance use problems.

Kerwin says DBT may also require too much of a time commitment for some people, like parents without child care or those with a busy work schedule. That’s because DBT often involves three or more hours of therapy a week between individual and group sessions, plus filling out diary cards in between. Behavior Therapists and Cognitive Behavior Therapists usually focus more on the current situation and its solution, rather than the past. They concentrate on a person’s views and beliefs about their life, not on personality traits.

Therapist Consultation Team

The term “dialectical” comes from the idea that bringing together two opposites in therapy — acceptance and change — brings better results than either one alone. If you often find yourself in emotional distress and want to learn some new coping strategies, DBT may be a good fit for you. The meetings generally last for 24 weeks, but many DBT programs repeat the skills training so the program lasts a full year. But as difficult as it might sound, it’s possible to manage them with a little help. In times of crisis, you might use certain coping strategies to help you deal with your emotions. Some of these, like self-isolating or avoidance, don’t do much help, though they may help you temporarily feel better.

Arnout van Kempen