Dialectical Behavior Therapy Resources

What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is effective for people who have trouble managing strong emotions and problem behaviors. “Dialectic” means that two opposite ideas can be true at the same time, and when those ideas are viewed together, they can create a new way of seeing a situation. The dialectic at the heart of DBT is acceptance and change.

In DBT, individuals are taught skills that enable them to experience their emotions without necessarily acting on them. They are also taught to replace problematic behaviors, such as self-injury or bingeing and purging, with skillful ones. DBT provides therapeutic skills in four key areas:

  • Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
  • Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations without the situation getting worse
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
  • Emotion Regulation: how to manage and express your emotions appropriately

These skills help people focus on decreasing suffering, improving relationships, and creating a life worth living. Each individual is in charge of their own specific goals during treatment; they work with their treatment team to determine how to utilize the skills they learn in DBT to accomplish these goals.

Who does DBT work for?

DBT works for adolescents and adults who experience strong emotions and have symptoms such as:

  • Suicidality
  • Self-injurious behavior
  • Dissociation
  • Quickly-changing moods
  • Extreme stubbornness
  • Substance use
  • Bingeing and purging

DBT is most effective for people who are committed to creating a life worth living and who are willing to engage in:

  • Weekly individual therapy
  • Weekly DBT group sessions
  • Out-of-session skills coaching on an as-needed basis

Learn more about DBT: 

What is DBT? 
Dialectical Behavior Therapy in a Nutshell 
Adapting Dialectical Behavior Therapy to Help Suicidal Adolescents
Dialectical Behavior Therapy FAQs
5 Ways You're Already Using DBT


Comprehensive DBT Programs at Sheppard Pratt Health System

At Sheppard Pratt Health System, we offer comprehensive DBT programming through the Berkeley and Eleanor Mann Residential Treatment Center and the Jefferson Residential Treatment Center.


DBT-Informed Programs at Sheppard Pratt Health System

In addition to our two comprehensive DBT programs, we offer several DBT-informed programs, including the Child & Adolescent Day HospitalThe Retreat, a specialized, private-pay residential psychiatric treatment program, The Trauma Disorders Program, the Young Adult Unit, and more.


DBT Testimonials

“The reason I choose to use my DBT skills is because I find it helpful in life. I believe I improved because if I was still at home, I would take my anger out on my family and punch holes in the wall. Now, I just use my DBT skills to have a better outcome.” – Paul E.

“In the past six months, I have completed one session of DBT skills class. The skill that has helped me the most would be interpersonal effectiveness, because when I first got here, I had no idea how to tell my parents how upset I was so I would just lash out. Now I can use these skills to tell them how I am feeling, why, and properly cope with the situation.” – Sarah S. 

"Mindfulness and Wise Mind, being in the moment, focusing on it right then and there, using interpersonal effectiveness to handle things appropriately." – Desiree N.

"Mindfulness - thinking of something calming and soothing even though you have other worries to think of.  It's a lot easier to think of one thing at a time." – Mia V.