Dialectical Behavior Therapy In New England

Dialectical behavior therapy works by helping people to acceptance and change. Personal acceptance and growth are used concurrently to help overcome addiction and mental health conditions.

Get Help Now!
Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is a type of psychotherapy based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that incorporates elements of mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies.

DBT is “dialectical” because it mixes seemingly opposite concepts, encouraging people to balance acceptance and change.

The primary focus of DBT is to help people handle their conditions while teaching them skills to make changes, including modifying negative behaviors.

This treatment modality can be applied as part of an individual therapy session or in a group therapy treatment program setting.

The Core Principles Of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy has been shown to help manage a wide range of health conditions using a few core elements.

Although DBT is similar to other behavioral approaches, the following elements must be in place for the treatment to constitute DBT.

Dialectics And Synthesis

“Dialectics” refers to the concept that two seemingly opposite ideas can be true at the same time.

In DBT, this means finding a balance between acceptance and change. People are encouraged to accept themselves as they are while also working towards change and personal growth.


DBT emphasizes the practice of mindfulness, which involves opening your mind and paying attention to the present moment.

Through evidence-based mindfulness practices, DBT helps people develop a better understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

By fostering this awareness, dialectical behavior therapy programs empower people to make more deliberate choices, ultimately bettering overall wellbeing.

Distress Tolerance

During therapy sessions, distress tolerance teaches people how to handle emotional distress without resorting to self-destructive behaviors.

This module includes skills for crisis management and coping with difficult situations.

By learning techniques such as self-soothing, distraction, and crisis survival strategies, DBT helps people navigate challenging moments.

Emotional Regulation

DBT helps people identify and regulate their emotions by teaching them to identify and manage their moods.

Through DBT’s skills and strategies, people learn how to recognize emotional triggers, respond to intense feelings in a healthier way, and develop emotional resilience.

This helps people build a stable foundation for better mental wellbeing and less stress in their daily lives.

Interpersonal Effectiveness

DBT focuses on improving relationship skills. People learn how to assert their needs, set boundaries, and handle conflicts.

By mastering these skills, people can express their needs more effectively to build healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

Applications For Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT has been shown to be effective in improving overall wellbeing in people with borderline personality disorder (BPD), mood disorders, and co-occurring substance abuse.

The therapy has gained recognition as a valuable treatment for emotional and behavioral issues, and many therapists provide this specialized form of therapy to their clients.

DBT can help both adults and adolescents, and it is a common part of inpatient and outpatient treatment for addiction. Some centers offer DBT through telehealth.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

DBT works well for people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) due to its effectiveness in addressing the specific challenges associated with the condition.

This therapy provides skills and strategies for managing emotional dysregulation, reducing impulsive behaviors, and improving emotional stability.

DBT is also effective in reducing self-harming behaviors and suicide attempts, which are common in people with BPD.

Mood Disorders

DBT can be used to help treat a variety of mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder.

Its usefulness for mood disorders centers on the fact that it teaches people skills to manage depressive symptoms. This includes techniques for increasing self-awareness and stopping negative thoughts.

While DBT is not a replacement for medication in the treatment of mood disorders, it can be used as a complementary therapy by offering strategies to manage symptoms.

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse

DBT can help people with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health issues at a qualified alcohol addiction treatment facility or drug addiction treatment center.

Many people use drugs and alcohol to cope with overwhelming emotions. Clinicians use DBT to help people develop coping skills for managing cravings and coping with triggers.

As a part of a comprehensive addiction therapy plan, DBT skills can help people learn how to regulate their emotions, reducing the need for drugs or alcohol.

Evidence For The Efficacy Of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

DBT programs have been proven to help treat the symptoms of mood disorders, borderline personality disorder, and co-occurring substance abuse in several randomized, controlled trials.

In one four-year study following 78 patients with BPD, DBT was shown to significantly reduce self-injury incidents and the number of inpatient hospital stays with an overall improvement in psychopathology.

At the end of the first treatment year, 77 percent of the patients no longer met criteria for BPD diagnosis.

Another study showed that patients with bipolar disorder who underwent DBT intervention saw improved scores in mania and depression when compared to the control group.

Overall, DBT has been extensively researched and has proven highly effective in enhancing emotional stability and improving the overall quality of life for individuals who need it.

Learn About Dialectical Behavior Therapy In New England

If you or a loved one is experiencing emotional or behavioral challenges in Massachusetts, our Bedrock Recovery Center specialists can help.

Call us to discuss your behavioral health treatment options today.

  1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2963469/
  2. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (University of Washington) https://depts.washington.edu/uwbrtc/about-us/dialectical-behavior-therapy/
  3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group Skills Training in a Community Mental Health Setting: A Pilot Study (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3191933/
  4. Effectiveness of dialectic behavioral therapy in routine outpatient care: the Berlin Borderline Study (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4579507/#:~:text=and%20general%20psychopathology.-,Results,met%20criteria%20for%20BPD%20diagnosis
  5. What Is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy? (Mind.org) https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/talking-therapy-and-counselling/dialectical-behaviour-therapy-dbt/
  6. Effectiveness of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy on Executive Function, Emotional Control and Severity of Symptoms in Patients with Bipolar I Disorder (NIH) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6796294/

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.
(617) 657-2877
icon-angle icon-bars icon-times