Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

Explains what dialectical behaviour therapy is, what it is for, what happens during therapy and how to find a therapist.

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What is dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)?

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of talking therapy which was originally developed by an American psychologist named Marsha Linehan. It is based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but has been adapted to meet the particular needs of people who experience emotions very intensely.

It is mainly used to treat problems associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD), such as:

What is the difference between DBT and CBT?

  • CBT focuses on helping you to change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving (see our pages on CBT for more information).
  • DBT also helps you to change unhelpful behaviours, but it differs from CBT in that it also focuses on accepting who you are at the same time. DBT places particular importance on the relationship between you and your therapist, and this relationship is used to actively motivate you to change.

You can find out more about the development of DBT on the official DBT website, BehavioralTech.

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